A Hard Start – Bright Future: Christian’s Story

Teenage classmates standing in high school hallway

Christian was only 5-years old when his father passed away, but he remembers it like yesterday. He still feels distraught unless he stays focused on his new life, that of a college student. As a young boy, his mother worked two jobs just trying to make ends meet. She would try to come home and make dinner for him, but most of the time, he was on his own. During high school his grandmother moved in, and Christian began to feel a heavy burden of responsibility to assist at home and financially in any way he could. Due to a slight learning disability, he was having difficulties and barely passed most of his core classes. With his failing grades, multiple trips to the counselor’s office, and his general feeling of worthlessness, by his sophomore year he had made his first career decision. Without consulting his mother or his counselor, he decided to drop out of school and become a gaming pro. He was 16 now, and “all that!”

Christian’s counselor always had his ear to the ground for news about his students. In fact, Christian was of great interest to him. From the first day they met, his counselor noticed he had impressive skill levels and interests in computers, and that he showed amazing interpersonal skills when communicating with staff and his peers. The counselor decided to make a personal effort to stop Christian’s departure before he had fully executed his plan to become a gaming pro. He had to act now.

When Christian showed up in his office, his counselor asked him how things were going. “Fine, and I am in the process of making it even better,” he replied. “Well, that’s not what I hear,” said his counselor. “Whatchu hear?” said Christian. His counselor responded, “I heard you have decided to drop out of school and take life up as a gaming pro.” “Yes, that’s true, because it will really help my Mom and Grandmother.”

His counselor suggested that he consider one last thing before he acted on his decision. He asked him to enroll in the cyber pathway course at school. The counselor guessed that his intense interest and love of computer technology might encourage him to become more engaged in his classes. It was a long shot, but he felt it was worth it to try and help change the world – even if it was one student at a time!

For Christian, the program became a dream come true! He was excited to go to school each day now. He was invited to join a team for one of the local cybersecurity competitions, and he excelled at it. His other classes became easy because he was engaged, and the school had a rule, if you are participating in outside, school-related activities, all classwork must be up to date. Students also had to have C or higher grades. Christian’s grades were not only passing, but he was now even “acing” most of them! He was able to catch up and pass classes that he had failed earlier.

During his senior year, Christian was unsure if he could pass the CompTIA IT Fundamentals Industry Exam & Certification and was terrified even to try. However, he not only passed, but he also received the highest score among his peers and classmates. His cyber team members and classmates served as an extension of his family, and after school practice sessions served as a safe haven amidst life’s pressures.Christian now has a new life and tries very hard to stay focused on his future. He is currently enrolled in a cyber pathway program in a California Community College, and has earned his second cyber pathway industry certification. Christian attributes his success to his Mom, Grandmother, his cyber coach and teammates, and of course his counselor, the one person who cared and took time to engage.

*These are true stories but names and some personally identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of the subjects.
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