At age 11, I moved with my parents from Brazil to St. Pete, FL, and moved once again a few years later to Clearwater, FL. Dealing with a huge culture shock and the challenge of meeting new friends at such a vulnerable time in my development, I had a tough time making friends, and ended up being accepted the easiest by the "wrong crowd."
Soon, I was not only rebelling against my parents, like many kids do, but external influences were encouraging me to rebel against society as well.
Rebelling led to anger, and anger led to fighting. As a result, I was enrolled in AMIkids Pinellas by the juvenile justice system. At first, I was angry, not understanding why I was pulled away from school and my friends, and felt that the world was against me.
After a short time at AMIkids, I got over the anger and started opening up to the staff. I began to realize that this is my life, and the things that I do and decisions I make are my future and will shape who I am as an individual. The Executive Director used to always say, "What happens in the dark will eventually come to light." His words influence me every day of my life and I live each day by that.
AMIkids prepared me for life, the good and the bad. It helped me understand where I want to be and how to achieve it. It was the best thing that could have happened to me and has drastically changed my life. Looking back to where those high school friends are now, I couldn't be more thankful.
After completing the program in just three months, I graduated high school and am working towards my Master's in Business Finance. I am closer than ever with my family and have an amazing man in my life who supports me in all that I do. To all of my accomplishments, achievements, happiness, and way of life I thank AMIkids for all that they do, day in and day out.
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