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Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2018 – Doing Nothing More Than What I Have Been Called to Do

Name: Daniel Ochoa Reyes
From: Lake Forest, CA
Grade: danielochoa321@gmail.com
School: danielochoa321@gmail.com
Votes: 0

Doing
Nothing More Than What I Have Been Called to Do

Plagued
by a pervasive wave of depression, drunk-driving, alcohol, nicotine,
and drug abuse, the students who I passed by everyday and considered
my friends became enslaved by these complications. Soon, I realized
these issues pertained not only to students in my school but to those
of the entire school district as well. I saw my classmates, my group
project partners, and even my church goers ensnared by substance
abuse, possibly to off-put a prevalent depression. Having dealt with
depressive episodes myself, I understood what they felt and why they
did the things they did, but I could no longer tolerate such
indifference to the effects of such poisons. Over the past four
years, I have taken it upon myself to ensure that the community and
school I leave behind is better than when I entered it.

The
impact that the 2,000 hours of community service I’ve committed to
combating the problems my community faces has been, to the absolute
content of my heart, visually evident. Through the Friday Night Live
program, a youth outreach program that serves to educate the youth on
substance abuse, I’ve seen the impact of my words and my work; we
have continuously reached out to the students and parents in our
community, whether through school or through church, to educate them
on the dangers of substance abuse and teach them refusal tactics
through skits, videos, and presentations. I have been in charge of
gathering data, summarizing it, directing and editing videos, acting
in skits, and presenting. Statistically, through the administration
of the Healthy Kids Survey, we have been able to determine that,
within our district, concurrent drug and alcohol consumption has
dropped by eight percent, vaping by two percent, and suicide
contemplation by four percent. Regardless of numerical data, I have
witnessed countless students resuscitate from the abusive lifestyles
they once followed.

At
school, and everywhere I go, I make sure to nurture my environment to
be one of compassion and understanding. I not only partake in the
solution but recruit and involve others, for as the efforts of one
ripple and become the efforts of many, the world becomes changed for
the better.

My
commitment as a volunteer for the betterment of my community has
brought me unparalleled joy. In addition to prevention education, I
have also given my personal testimony about how one can overcome the
grandest obstacles and instate real change to students within my
church’s confirmation program.

As
the principal youth leader within my church, I have been at the helm
of leading and educating hundreds of students about the core
principles of life, inspiring them, through my talks, actions, and
leadership, to pursue a life of devotion to the principle of love and
to leave the world better than when they came into it.

Being
a leader means to serve, for without support, no team nor individual
could succeed. The months of planning for classes and retreats for
the Catholic sacrament of Confirmation bear their reward through
their sublime
impact.
At such retreats, which involve discussion about faith and narration
on how to live one’s best possible life, I recount my personal
experiences and challenges that have affected my service as a
volunteer. I recount my experience of having to deal with and forgive
an abusive, alcoholic father, my socioeconomic struggles, and my
experience of how in the darkest depths of the abyss we call
depression, I have separated myself from what we know to be good and
true to such an extent that I nearly took my own life. From such
depths, we must rise and prompt change; I share my life with them to
show that when one reaches a very low point, they must maintain faith
and move forward from such moments, holding no resentment, but rather
joy for these experiences that shape us into who we are.


Upon the conclusion of the
retreat, the students walk away with the confidence to persevere and
to better their lives and that of those around them. I was later told
by a student that my words and m
y
similar experience had given them hope to continue living. I do not
like to feel prideful, but at this moment, a fruit bloomed from my
efforts, and for once I was proud. This pride did not feel like
hubris, but rather like the pure essence of joy; and with that, I
have strengthened my efforts to help and guide my fellow peers.

Being
a generally unsociable person, these two volunteer experiences I’ve
undertaken have helped me grow more than any other person, event, or
experience. I have burst from my shy shell into the role a confident
leader and public speaker must take on. While I have, and continue
to, volunteer at food shelters, homeless shelters, dog shelters, and
my local hospital, none of these have opened my heart, mind, and soul
to the realization that there is so much good in the world as the
youth I’ve dealt with through these volunteer positions. Without
the volunteering I have done, I can not define myself as a decent
human being with an urge to help and truly make the world a better
place.


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