David was raised by a single mother and had difficulty socializing at school, staying focused in class and doing his homework. “I was a rebel child.” After repeating 9th grade unsuccessfully, his mother withdrew him from high school.

When he was 21, David graduated with his GED. When asked what compelled him to return to earn his GED, David says that his martial arts instructor was his influencer. “There is a Korean term meaning ‘like father’ and without me realizing it, he became that. There was one situation where his daughter asked me to spell ‘towel’. I couldn’t spell it. He taught me a lesson that there is no ‘can’ or ‘can’t’, but there is a ‘will’ or ‘won’t’. That lesson is what pushed me to get my GED. One of other wishes he had was for me to go back to college. I am now enrolled in Houston Community College studying health and nutrition.”

“I never got my black belt in karate. My goal now is to push further in college, push myself physically, get back with family and hopefully in a year or so, I can go back to get my black belt.”

When asked what the community could do to help more young men and women who are struggling and are at risk of dropping out to stay in school and graduate, David says, “Show tolerance. Help to understand their problems and provide some positive influence in their lives. People kept telling me ‘That’s wrong. That’s bad. You’re bad.’ I needed to have confidence in myself. My martial arts instructor helped me to do that.”