I had friends that were doin' drugs. For them, life was a black hole every day. You never knew what was going to happen. Your best friend could get kidnapped walking to the bus stop. I could have easily been pulled into this culture, but fortunately, I had a strong mom.
I grew up in a single-parent household. And there was a period of time I didn't see my dad for a while when he moved back to Memphis to work. I missed him and I was angry at times, but my mom stepped in and she raised me. It wasn't easy. She knew that she was going to have to work hard at keepin' me on a path that led to somewhere, because I had friends who were on the path to nowhere.
I struggled...especially in high school. Going into 10th grade my self-esteem was pretty low. I was so ashamed of my grades. On the outside, I was the guy who had it all together, but on the inside I knew better.
I was involved in everything, at school and church. I said yes to every club, every board and every activity. I was doin' 20 million different things and getting asked 20 million different questions. I was the go-to guy, but I had a big secret. I had over-committed myself to the point of failing in school. I was embarrassed and so ashamed for people to know. I even considered not graduating at my lowest point.
Good thing I had a friend named Whitney. She was a member of On Point's teen board. Whitney really pushed me to fill out the teen board application. She cared about me graduating high school and always said that if I didn't walk the stage when she did she was going to be very disappointed in me.
Whitney and a few other members did my interview. I admit I was scared, but I was finally accepted. I found the group was truly youth driven, which surprised me. I saw the teen board actually voting on things--issues that impacted the community and our school. They wanted to affect positive change.
While I served on the teen board, I had the opportunity to plan and work on the Graduation Retreat. This was very important to me, considering I was one of those kids who didn't want to graduate at times. I threw myself into the retreat planning and loved it. We received a lot of positive feedback and I felt good about that.
On Point gave me the confidence and courage it took to pull my grades up and graduate with my class. On Point changed my life. I'll never forget that.
Chris works for the City of Chattanooga, in the Hixson Community Center. He loves his job because it's all about giving youth a voice. His long-term goal is to run for public office as a City Councilman so he can effect change in the community and ensure youth always have a voice. In his free time, he encourages younger kids to challenge themselves. He says On Point was a huge motivator and contributed to his success.
Motto: Don't quit. Finish it.