Against All Odds

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Two years ago, Issac was a withdrawn 15 year old freshman who was guarded and hesitant to open up about his life story. Joy was absent from his face, and he freely expressed anger. His disdain for his paternal grandmother was communicated passionately through colorful words. He expressed betrayal when she threw out belongings and kicked him out of her home. Issac’s mother had never been a part of his life, and his father was frequently incarcerated. His memories of middle school all revolved around being bullied. He would respond to this bullying by fighting back, leading to disciplinary actions and giving up on school. His experience with people was mostly of hurt and pain, leading him to develop a perception of the world that was very negative. Issac didn't have any friends, nor did he desire to have any. His only escape was staying in his room playing video games or watching TV.


Issac begrudgingly made amends with his grandmother after being kicked out and returned to her home, only for it to catch fire and burn to the ground, displacing the family. After that, Issac stayed with his father in a motel in a very bad part of town. The motel and surrounding area were a hot a spot for drugs and prostitution and Issac was left alone in the heart if it while his father dealt in the illegal activity daily. It wasn’t long before his father was caught and sent back to prison. Issac was fifteen years old.


Against All Odds


Against all odds, Issac agreed to enroll in the M.U.S.T. community, and due to school being remote because of the pandemic, the only time Issac left the motel room was during his one-on-ones with his Mentor.


Issac’s first MUST weekend event with his cohort, took place at a go-kart racetrack. During the event Issac kept himself in the darkest corner he could find and refused to engage with anyone or participate in the racing. He often refused his weekly meals with his Mentor because of the anxiety he would experience when being around other people. However, as weeks went by and Issac’s Mentor persisted, Issac started showing up more and more.


Things Are Looking Up


It took 6 months of consistency for Issac to start trusting his Mentor, and to begin opening up. His Mentor never lost hope or became frustrated, as he saw something under the hard exterior Issac had built around himself. The next 6 months Issac and his Mentor worked on developing social skills. In the beginning Isaac did not have the confidence to order his own food. His Mentor would challenge him to advocate for himself and place his own order. He needed coaching and built confidence in asking for what he wanted. This was challenging for him. Issac was forced to learn how to be resilient from a very young age, but this resiliency also came with a hard coated shell that he had to work diligently to peel away. As he gained the courage to open up more and more, his Mentor learned what a bright young man he is. Issac’s ability to articulate his ideas, his witty sense of humor, and fascination for world history blew his Mentor away.


A Story of Transformation


Mid 2021, Issac’s grandmother’s home was rebuilt, and Issac moved back in with his grandmother. Issac had grown tremendously in the time he was away, and his grandmother noticed. After some counseling sessions with M.U.S.T. staff, Issac and his grandmother were able to find some common ground and began the process of mending their relationship. With the variety of outings Issac had been going on with his cohort he was exposed to a lot of new experiences, from ax throwing to escape rooms, giving him the opportunity to build confidence, create positive memories, and make friends within the M.U.S.T. community.


Through the collaboration between M.U.S.T. and Issac’s school, Issac is now an active, engaged student, attending classes regularly, getting good grades, and making plans for his future after graduation.


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