Homeless by Choice: Former NVC Student Spreads a Message of Hope
The former Northwest Vista College student, now turned national motivational speaker, told his personal story to employees and students how he had to witness domestic violence in his home as a child. How he had to rock his two-year-old brother to sleep while being homeless to help him get over hunger pains. How he begged a minister to let him and his siblings stay in the minister’s church to get off the streets.
When he finally made it to Northwest Vista College, he found mentors that cared about him despite the fact that he was still struggling. He eventually received a bachelor’s degree from Hardin-Simmons University.
As a motivational speaker, his message to educators is not to give up on students, but to be role models because you never know who’s hurting inside.
He said he would always hear from his teachers to dream big, but all he could think about sometimes was how bad his mother was beaten by his father. One day, he begged a school counselor to let him go home to see if his mom was still alive. Often at night, he would hear her scream, “Mijo, help me!” Instead, he would just put the pillow over his head and see the damage in the morning.
“Education is freedom. Everyone has a story and if we become gatekeepers instead of motivators, we can change the course of a person’s life,” Juarez said.
While speaking in San Jose, Calif. one day, he remembered talking with a boy who had just lost his mother to domestic violence. Juarez asked the Northwest Vista audience, “how does a boy dream about his future when his life is destroyed?
“As teachers, the advice you give to a boy in a situation like that could be a turning point in his life!” he said.
Students who were at his presentation said Juarez’s situation makes you realize whatever problems you have are minor because it could be worse – you could be homeless.
“It gave me hope to know even though there are hard times, it gets better,” said NVC student Tiffany Rico. “His story was really inspirational.”
Juarez’s mission now is traveling across the nation - living just out of a few duffle bags – to inspire youth, educators and parents about the message of hope, perseverance and the importance of education. To book Juarez for speaking engagements, call (702) 445-3754 or visit his website at www.HomelessByChoice.com