Despite a rough childhood with bouts of homelessness, bullying, and struggles at his church and previous high schools, Joel B. found a second home at Learn4Life. “When I came to this school, everyone respected me,” he explained. “One teacher was always there for me, like a second mom. Others cared enough to find out about me, rather than assume. Another challenged me and never let me be just average.”  

He loves writing poetry and gets his poems on posters and in newsletters. He even won the school’s poetry award. “But I was most proud of our superintendent calling me the most eloquent student she’s ever met,” he said. “That meant a lot.” 

Joel just graduated and is working to be certified as an in-home supportive services agent, a job that will allow him time to pursue writing, poetry and his love of science and IT. He plans to attend Oxnard College’s IT program and one day wants to own his own tech company.  

He is an Alumni Ambassador for Learn4Life, mentoring current students. “I want to inform people about this amazing environment where you can achieve so much and they’ll help you beyond the classroom,” he said, mentioning that his teacher got him a donated bicycle so he wouldn’t have to come to school on his broken scooter that had no brakes. “Every student should have the opportunity to attend such an amazing place. I want to give back to the school that gave me so much and made me the person I am today.” 

 He said that just as important as the academics, here he learned that he matters, and that he’s a great person – something he had never before given himself credit. “It’s the person standing before you that defines them. Not the challenges they went through.” 

Watch this video to hear Joel’s poem that reflects on his time in high school. 

Written By:
Ann Abajian
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