Troubled youth sets example for other teens

An 18-year-old senior in Belleville, Illinois is living proof why society should not write off those that have experienced a run-in with the law and were subsequently charged with a juvenile crime at some point in their lives.

This young man got a second chance and made the most with it. He was recently named the Illinois Coalition for Educating At-Risk Youth's scholar of the year. He was honored at a ceremony held at his school -- St. Clair County's Safe School. The school is dedicated to kids who have been expelled from public school districts.

He also won a $500 scholarship that he can use at any school.

The student said that many people are ignorant to what troubled youth go through. This troubled upbringing can lead a child to commit a juvenile offense that they must pay for. But the recently-honored student said that members of society should treat these children with some leniency.

The student speaks from experience as he saw his dad pass away when he was only 6 years old. Admitting that his mother was still in the picture and attempting to raise him the best she could, he eventually was expelled from his high school. Instead of continuing down that path of destruction, the student was recommended for the alternative school program. He was grateful for the opportunity and put his full effort into correcting the mistakes he previously made.

Unfortunately for him, his mother passed away from cancer before he even knew he was nominated for the award. Unlike when his father died, the student is determined to stay on the straight and narrow. He said he was going to dedicate the rest of his educational efforts to his mother.

Considering the way he overcame his disciplinary issues, it is no surprise that the student intends to pursue a career in criminal justice. He is considering both Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville and Carbondale as destinations to continue his education.

Source:, "Second chance: Belleville student who was expelled is now top scholar," Scott Wuerz, April 10, 2012

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