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“From the moment I opened that door, I felt like I was loved…I felt so motivated,”

“The teachers weren’t just teachers; they were like big brothers and big sisters.”

“I remain very optimistic for my future. I firmly believe Learn4Life provided me with the necessary framework both in terms of knowledge and practical skills, to ultimately chase my dreams and play my part as a respectable member of society.”

Rudy’s Story

Poverty, an abusive father, and gangs put Rudy on a path to prison. The caring teachers and personalized attention at Learn4Life helped him change his story.

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“From the moment I opened that door, I felt like I was loved…I felt so motivated,”

“The teachers weren’t just teachers; they were like big brothers and big sisters.”

“I remain very optimistic for my future. I firmly believe Learn4Life provided me with the necessary framework both in terms of knowledge and practical skills, to ultimately chase my dreams and play my part as a respectable member of society.”

Rudy’s early childhood was ordinary and happy; he enjoyed school, played sports, and had lots of friends. He always had a huge appetite for learning and was nicknamed “Speedy” by his fourth-grade teacher for his desire to finish his schoolwork before his classmates. Early on, Rudy’s home environment was solid and enjoyable. He was raised by two working class parents who taught him the importance of discipline, education, and respect. However, his father was an alcoholic and a drug addict who became abusive, both physically and verbally. Rudy found himself living in a constant state of fear. Eventually, his family lost their home and his parents divorced.

Unfortunately, his childhood trauma was just beginning. Many of Rudy’s family members were former or current gang members, so violence and conflict were normal for him and he began to think that this type of behavior was permissible. While attending middle school, Rudy was heavily immersed in gang culture, despite maintaining a 4.0 GPA. He felt angry at the world and was often in trouble for lashing out verbally or through violence because conflict felt normal to him. He grew increasingly rebellious and completely lost track of his positive attributes and strengths. He was also apathetic towards school and lost his motivation to learn because he felt his teachers didn’t care about his well-being and overall success.

After an altercation at school that led to his suspension, Rudy’s mother took him to visit an uncle who was in prison. Another inmate asked Rudy if he wanted to get an education inside a penitentiary or inside a classroom. That wakeup call made him determined to turn his life around, so he enrolled at Learn4Life.

At Learn4Life, Rudy found the support he desperately needed. His head teacher constantly checked his progress and reminded him to stay focused. His math teacher also played a vital role by encouraging him to “master his craft,” telling Rudy he needed to make education his job. He also introduced Rudy to the idea of attending community college and educated him about the process. And Rudy’s English teacher played a critical role by instilling a passion for English Literature in him, a subject which Rudy had previously felt ambivalent. All his teachers helped cultivate his strengths and weaknesses and made him feel that they cared and wanted him to achieve greatness.

Rudy graduated from Learn4Life in 2014 and went on to San Diego City College where he earned a 3.9 GPA and his associate degree. From there he earned a full scholarship to University of California, San Diego (UCSD) where he received his bachelor’s degree, graduating Summa Cum Laude.

Rudy is pursuing a law degree with his sights set on attending Harvard and becoming a constitutional lawyer. He would eventually like to enter politics, starting with City Council in his hometown and work his way up the political ladder to one day run for Senator of California

80%

of gang members are dropouts.

More than two thirds

of children reported at least 1 traumatic event by age 16.

32 %

of ninth graders who were suspended once, drop out of school.

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