Yesterday, the Seattle Times shared the amazing story of a boy's transformation from preteen gang member to graduating senior with a 4.0 GPA and a drive to help others.
Brayan, who chose not to be identified by his last name, is a 17-year-old student at Washington's Scriber Lake High School. At 12, he ran away from home to join his cousin's gang, where he staked turf and abused drugs and alcohol for three years, according to the Seattle Times.
With help from authorities, the gang was dissolved. Brayan found a new start at Scriber Lake, where under the guidance of faculty members, he kept clear of trouble, threw himself into his studies and became a high achiever in several subjects.
He even started a conversation about gangs among his peers.
“I think that he gets frustrated when he sees other students that are making dumb decisions, because to him, he’s already gone through that," Scriber Lake teacher Marjie Bowker told the Seattle Times.
For his senior project, Brayan interviewed convicted gang members about their pasts, and his own story was published as an essay in the book "We Are Absolutely Not Okay." He plans to attend Edmonds Community College to study criminal justice.
Sometimes teens need help escaping the web of gangs. Homeboy Industries is an L.A.-based nonprofit that specializes in rehabilitating former gang members.
Just last week HuffPost spoke with Dorene Macias, a former member of an L.A. gang whose life was overtaken by gun violence and drug addiction. With the help of Homeboy Industries, Macias found a full-time job and can better provide for her 10-year-old son.
Click here to read some more success stories that the organization shared with The Huffington Post last year.