"I knew I needed to be a leader, not a follower."
I tried to fit in. I wanted everyone to like me. I wanted to do all the things the "cool" kids were doing. Being cool was my number one priority. My friends were smoking and drinking and I thought that sounded like the thing to do. How wrong I was. But sometimes you're so wrapped up in your friends and making sure you're accepted and tight with the group, you lose sight of the things that really matter.
It took me a while to realize I was making bad decisions and choosing the wrong kind of friends. This went on through middle school. I saw a lot of my friends getting other girls pregnant and choosing drugs and alcohol over school. They were being selfish, thinking of themselves, choosing escape over responsibility. Deep down I knew the decisions I saw my friends making were not for me.
In eighth grade, I started attending the weekly Life On Point program. I thought maybe this was a chance for me to find my way back. The teens in the group talked about things like making good choices, staying abstinent and focusing on a vision for your future. For the first time I knew that my instincts were right.
All along I never lost sight of the fact that I knew the difference between right and wrong. Spending time in the Life On Point program simply strengthened those instincts. I had finally found that support group I was missing all through middle school. I felt like I was getting my life on the right track--the track to self-respect and taking responsibility for my actions.
After attending the Life On Point group for a while, I decided to apply for the teen board. I wanted to be surrounded by teens that were like me--teens who wanted to make healthy life decisions. Even though I've turned my life around, peer pressure is still all around me; it's my biggest worry.
Every day I see some of my friends making the wrong decisions. I've made the decision to stay away from sexual activity. But that's okay, because being in On Point has allowed me to spend a lot of time thinking about my goals and dreams and I've realized that I need to focus on my future, not negative influences. My peers pick on me because of that decision, telling me, "man, you trippin'." I tell them I'm focused on my future and making good decisions.
I look ahead and I see myself coming back and spending some time in the classroom helping other teens that are in On Point. One of my goals is to be a mentor to them. I want to give back for all of the help I was given throughout high school. I wouldn't be where I am today without On Point.
Currently, AJ attends all honors classes. He is also heavily involved in the media industry at church. He's also a member of the bowling club and an active member of the "Gear-UP" college prep club. AJ wants to go on to college and major in criminal justice. His goal is to be a detective. He also has another ambition, one day he hopes to become a well-known actor!
Motto: Too Legit To Quit.