“I felt like I was boxed in and would be doing dead end jobs for the rest of my life.”

I was charged as an adult in the 11th grade. I had promise – I thought I was going to graduate and get into a career where I was going to make good money or I could go into the military. After being arrested, those options just weren’t the same anymore. It cut my options in half – I couldn’t find an open door. I felt like I was boxed in and that I would always be doing dead end jobs for the rest of my life.

Being charged as an adult took four or five of the most important years of my life. I felt left behind, lost and off track. I had to try to figure out what doors were open for a person like me. I started trade school because I thought that it was the best option to get a job and health insurance to help me provide for my family. In my situation, if you have a son with cystic fibrosis how are you going to provide for his treatment if you are only making $7.25 working at a dead end job? It’s kind of heartbreaking because you can’t provide for your family. It makes you feel like less of a man because of mistakes that you made in your past that hinder you from being the person you know you can be and leading by example for your child. You don’t want your child to go through things that are rough in life just because of decisions you made.

It was a lot to get through trade school, but in pursuing welding I finally found something that I was passionate about and that I could take pride in doing. I love working with my hands and I still think it’s amazing how you can cut through metal like you can cut through butter. People told me I was doing the wrong thing and that I could get money faster in other ways but I feel as though securing a stable job is the best decision I can make for my child’s future.

I want to be a success story. I don’t want to do anything halfway. The odds have been against me, but I am graduating from my trade school in December and I can’t wait for my last day of school. I’m planning on going back to school and getting my carpentry certification so that I can renovate and build houses.

You can’t go backwards; you just have to keep succeeding.

– D.W.