Most high school students don’t leave home at 3 a.m. to go to school, but Brandon did. As a U.S. citizen, he lived with his sister and mother in Mexico. Every day, he boarded a bus that crossed the border from Tijuana, Mexico to California to make it to school by 8 a.m.
Before his junior year, he moved to Los Angeles to live with his father, with the hopes of maintaining a more normal life at school. After a few months, due to irreconcilable differences, Brandon soon found himself on the streets.
At 16 years old, Brandon moved into a garage, paying $200 a month for rent. During the weekends, he traveled on his bike for two hours to work at a swap meet where he earned $400 a month. Unfortunately, if it rained, the swap meet would be canceled, so Brandon skipped meals to save money.
Tam Nguyen, the Lynwood School District Homeless Liaison, was excited to learn of our We’ve Got Your Back program for students like Brandon. When Brandon received his first backpack, he broke down because he hadn’t eaten fruit in weeks. Because Brandon was an unaccompanied minor at that time, he also received soap, shampoo, deodorant, socks and other basic necessities once a month.
With goals and aspirations to be a computer scientist, Brandon saved money every month to one day go to college. Throughout high school, Brandon maintained a 3.7 GPA, so he applied to some of his dream schools and was accepted into several of them. In May, he selected UC Merced as his school of choice and will be studying Computer Science in the Fall. He has received several scholarships and currently holds three jobs to ensure his success in college.
To celebrate Brandon’s huge accomplishments, our staff hosted a graduation party for him, where he shared, “Without Giving Children Hope, I don’t know what I would’ve done.” Some staff also attended his graduation and cheered him on. The Giving Children Hope team is so proud of him and cannot wait to see how he changes the world! To see all the photos, please click here!