04/23/2014 03:51 pm ET Updated Jun 22, 2014

From Being Considered At-Risk to Becoming Resilient, Part 1 of 2

Who did you want to be when you grow up? That is a hard question to find a meaningful answer for an adolescent. At least, it was for me. I did not have any inkling at the magical and legal age of 18, what direction I was headed with my career goals. At most, I knew I wanted to attend a college or university.

Just a year before turning 18, I followed my heart and my brain. I made the courageous decision with the support of friends and their parents to leave my impoverished conditions, abusive environment and unhealthy dialogue that had been for so many years my normal. I quickly learned that in order for me to thrive personally and academically my brain required a new framework. I needed a positive, healthy, yet structured environment. I needed to set goals and meet them in a timely matter. I had to give myself time to reflect, heal and become an individual. After all, I was one of 13 children in my former household.

I lived in a children's home from my junior year in high school and until I graduated with my bachelors. This new environment was precisely what I later learned was the catalyst in moving me from being considered at-risk to becoming resilient. My public and higher education, too was essential to the evolution as to who I was to become. While I never experienced Kindergarten at age 5, I did begin attending public school at age 7 with Spanish being my primary language. The late start had me graduating high school at age 19. Regardless, I pushed onward to obtain 3 higher educational degrees within a 13-year period.

The notion of becoming gave me a chance to see myself in a different way than others had seen me and perhaps, I had ever seen myself. The phenomenology of becoming gave me the opportunity to transform, become empowered and always find a way to see the upside into changes that were occurring in life. I wanted others who were in similar situations as me to have the same awakening and awareness. I wanted to offer hope, enlightenment and next steps to see a future that would be grounded in a new framework. This new framework to change my at-risk factors and move into a resiliency model of thinking arrived in my newest journey as General Manager of E-Colors in Education.