“I have come to see myself clearly as a strong and motivated individual.“
When I was sixteen years old, I contacted law enforcement due to the abuse that was going on at home. Contacting the authorities left me without a home and a family. While I was navigating my new life alone, I found AHO through one of my mentors and host families. I remember texting Zara and scheduling an appointment to meet with her and she got back to me that same day. When I met Zara, she was very welcoming and comforting. I will never forget that moment, I was a sophomore in high school. I had just left home and was on my own. I felt alone and hopeless during this time in my life. However, AHO and Zara gave me hope that I had a bright future ahead of me.
Through AHO, I was able to participate in the youth team and trained to be a leader for the Building Bridges events we had at Marin Oaks and Terra Linda High School that were designed to begin building a better understanding between youth and police. When I began the leader training I was very shy. When I spoke, people could hardly hear me. These events enabled me to get out of my comfort zone and allowed me to build my confidence. Being a part of AHO has given me the opportunity to connect with all the other youth AHO helps those who come from families without the ability or capacity to really be there for them.
AHO has become a second home to me where I can connect with other youth. I am so glad I decided to take the initiative to contact them. I will be graduating from San Rafael high school this year and attending a four-year university this fall 2020. I applied to 15 colleges and was accepted into the majority of them. I hope to attend UC Merced in the fall, and I am so excited. I will be one of the first in my family to go off to college. I would not have imagined myself in this position if it were not for AHO, Zara, and my other mentors.
When I needed guidance or help seeking resources, I could count on AHO and Zara for help. Over the last year and a half, I have come to see myself clearly as a strong and motivated individual, responsible and capable of reshaping my future. Despite all the challenges I have faced, I know every choice I have made has paved the way to my freedom of hopefully becoming a lawyer someday.