Growing up, I always dreamt of attending college to play soccer and become a lawyer to help make a difference in my community. From my very first year of high school, college was something that felt a long time away. But time has quickly passed and I am proud to say that I have completed my very first semester at Kenyon College!
To be completely honest, the beginning of my first semester was rough. It was much harder than I expected. With the academic workload, grueling daily soccer practices and working a campus job, I was not sure I’d make it. Instinctively, I realized I had been through something similar in the past while at South Bronx United and boarding school. As a participant of SBU, I had a lot of commitments in and out of school. SBU taught me how to properly balance my time between school, late soccer practices, volunteering and work.
Through SBU, I was given the chance to attend Mercersburg Academy, a boarding school in Pennsylvania. Being there also taught me several lessons- some similar and some different than SBU. I look at it like this: SBU gave me the tools to succeed at prep school and prep school gave me the tools to eventually succeed at Kenyon College.
So far, my college career has given me even more opportunities to reflect upon my life and the people in it. I appreciate my mother even more for working hard every day so that I could focus on school and soccer. I appreciate the coaches, tutors, mentors and donors of South Bronx United who dedicate their time and effort to getting kids like me off the streets and into great universities. I appreciate Mercersburg Academy for all the friendships and memories I created while there.
Now, when I feel stressed, down, unhappy, or homesick, I think of the people in my life who love me and want nothing but for me to succeed; I think about all my former coaches, tutors, and teachers who helped prepare me for college; I think about what my mother goes through daily and I realized I am not going to college just for myself, but I am also going for the people who helped get me to this point and believed in me.
After the first month of my first semester, I was finally able to adjust to my new college life. I now find enjoyment in my classes, playing soccer and working a campus job. I am very grateful to be where I am today.
To those of you who are a part of South Bronx United, I have a message for YOU! First, appreciate those who work or volunteer to help you be a successful student. The coaches at SBU would love to see you go to a college and continue to play soccer at a higher level. Second, live in the moment. I was in your shoes not too long ago and, even though I have moved on and I am happy, I wish I still had the opportunity to play league games in the city with my brothers. And third, never give up on your dreams, whether its becoming a soccer player, a lawyer, or any other profession.
This dream wouldn’t have been possible without the help of South Bronx United. I am very grateful to have found SBU and to have been a part of a life changing organization.
Written by Gnim Bazim.