Operation Graduation 2013: Ricardo Montoya (Melrose Park, Ill.)

Date: May 9, 2013

Time Is What Changed Me

This isn’t your everyday story you hear from a growing individual; from being raised without a father figure; to having a caring mother that played both roles of parenting. Me, being a child with high hopes and bright dreams; but letting my dreams hit rock bottom due to addiction to drugs. Being exposed to real-life scenes changed my way of living and made me more humble about life. I really did come a long way with time, because to be honest, time could’ve ended my life years ago. To make it happen, one must take action. It’s the slogan- I’m hanging on for the rest of my life.

Growing up was the worst part. My father was a drug dealer that would come in and out of my life- with visions in my head still to this day of my father beating my mother up for no reason. Mother worked two jobs, late night shifts at a local store called Target. I feared for my life at a very young age, not knowing what the future might have in store for me. As a child, I prayed and cried myself to sleep, hoping for better days. I had no new clothes, shoes smashing my feet; but the nights that ruined my childhood were no-heat during the holidays and during the freezing winter nights. Having no father changes your aspects of focus. I disobeyed, I snuck out and hung out with the wrong crowd which ending me up in mental homes because of my actions. I spent many days in rooms with my thoughts running wild to make it happen and countless nights hoping for change to be something in life. I will make it happen- if not, I’ll die trying.

Being a teenager, with all negativity entering high school, it changed my character drastically. I was a star player for Proviso East High School my 2009- 2010 school year. I even had decent grades, perfect attendance and I was the only freshmen playing varsity ball. I enjoyed playing baseball; it took my mind off life as my body was sync to the event I participated in. Then, drugs took a toll on my sports life and my mind. I started smoking cannabis at the age of twelve in eighth grade and became a heavy drug user by sixteen. I began to ditch school with people I knew at the time, both girls and guys. I was living for the moments, not caring about anyone’s feelings except mine. I was a lost soul trying to find love.

Age seventeen, I was kicked out my house for being a junkie. I never stole from my family – they kicked me out because I was an addict. So me being a hot head I put all my belongings in a heavy duty black bag and left. I lived on the streets for two days till my best friend Matthew and I asked his father Gary to ask if I can live at their house. Without hesitation my best friend father welcomed me in his house and accepted me as a son. The family I moved in with was Italian and Matt and I became brothers; even though we had different blood types. Living with white people wasn’t hard since I look like one- I adapted very well. The rules were we had chores and had to go to school on time. We followed all rules except one and that was school. I become involved with more usage and I stayed for two years. When I chose to go to school it was to get high, holler at the ladies and sell drugs.

I was expelled on April 12, 2011, for possession and intent to sell on educational grounds. I had a sport injury that same year on my left knee ACL, which brought more attention on me since I was in a wheel chair. I slipped up when I served a security guard on camera in my wheel chair I was currently in at the time. I was then arrested by a sheriff cop- but he didn’t send me to jail. I was blessed to not see a county jail at age seventeen, but my time spent thinking after the incident brought new blessings to my life.

I worked labor jobs during my days expelled; to me it was slave work and the jobs given made you think and strengthen my hope and also my faith levels. I lost my first girlfriend for being a drug addict, but I gained knowledge for myself to make myself better and to keep education always a part of my life. I gained my God’s trust to keep guiding me through hell, and so far he’s doing a great job. Ombudsman alternative schooling was a blessing because now I am able to graduate and I learned what I didn’t learn when I went to an actual high school setting. I enjoy and enjoyed my time spent here at Ombudsman with great teachers and cool people. I will and would recommend a teenager to attend Ombudsman if high school was hard for what ever reason they might have. The small room setting and the teachers that help you can raise up your attendance record and boost up your grades in all classes. I’m nineteen years old now and I’ll be twenty on August the ninth. I learned a lot of things in all subjects and I plan to continue my learning in my years in college- thanks to Ombudsman and Proviso East High School. By May 26, I can finally raise my head high and say “I’ve made it.”

Categories: Education Resources, Success Stories
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