On March 17, 2000, I was born to a couple that I feel didn’t deserve me and weren’t capable of taking care of an infant boy. I was given up to social services shortly after birth and jumped from foster home to foster home till the age of 3, when a family living in New Jersey adopted me and attempted to take me in as their own.
When I was 7, we moved to an old country house on the edge of Farmville, where I spent the next seven years. I was a troublesome kid, and I was the victim of a lot of emotional and physical abuse for the first 14 years of my life. I hate to admit that they had any effect on me, but I suffered from depression, anger issues, low self-esteem and deep trust issues.
Growing up, I didn’t understand these psychological issues. As I got older, they started showing more and more in everyday life because I kept getting in trouble, which caused even more problems at school and within the household. When I was 14, the people I was living with had had enough and gave me back to social services, where I was assigned a caseworker. She helped me get away from that negative environment and tried putting me in places where I could be nourished and grow.
I am very grateful now thinking back on it, but back then I was defiant. I didn’t really start to change until I met with some therapists and talked. The average therapy session is roughly an hour, but there were days where I spent hours upon hours just talking. They helped me recognize my emotions and even helped me control them. I didn’t suppress the emotions, but I learned to think rationally about them. Instead of acting on how I was feeling, I started acting on what I thought would be the best for myself and my future. I realized that how people treat you should have no impact on how you treat them or change who you want to be.
When I was 17, I moved to Newport News and started a new life. There were plenty of challenges and obstacles, but I was able to overcome them. A month into my senior year I started school at Warwick High School, where I felt as if I finally fit in and was normal. It was the best year of my life.
The day I turned 18 I moved out on my own and was maintaining a steady job while also finishing my high-school education. I had a lot of people rooting for me, but I also had a lot of people waiting for me to slip up, so when I walked across the stage with the rest of the class of 2018 in the Hampton coliseum, it was one of the proudest moments of my life.
I wish I’d had more time to congratulate myself, but I had to keep going because the next step was what was I going to do with my future. Throughout the years I had a lot of passions: I wanted to be a therapist; I wanted to be a lawyer. But I finally decided that I wanted to obtain a business degree. There were people who thought I should settle for something else like military or trade school, but I followed what I thought was right and applied to numerous colleges, Longwood being one of them.
I still remember the day that I had got my acceptance letter from Longwood. I was starting to get nervous because I had already been rejected from one college, so I tried not to get my hopes up when I saw an envelope with the official Longwood seal on it.
At Longwood, I found people who were supportive of me and what I was trying to accomplish. They helped me get started, and, no matter what, I will be forever grateful to them. It’s too late now for me to give up. It would be selfish, and I can’t let myself or anyone else rooting for me down. So I am going to do whatever it takes to get this degree and give back to the world because, aside from what I was taught growing up, there are good people in it.