“They Listened”: A Graduate Explains How P.E.C.E.S.’ Alternative School Changed his Life
One could say that losing your parents at an early age would leave you short in you share of love. Fortunately for Edwin Jesús Medina Cintrón, life provided love, acceptance and motivation in other ways – including the opportunity to attend P.E.C.E.S.’ alternative high school in Punta Santiago, Humacao.
Edwin is a 2020 graduate and a participant in an entrepreneurial initiative designed for P.E.C.E.S.’ students. In addition to a nurturing and supporting environment, the school has provided Edwin with entrepreneurial mentoring and seed money for him to develop his dance school business idea.
When his parents died before he turned 9, his older sister took charge of his upbringing.
“Elementary and middle school were really hard”, he says. “My sister has always been there for me, but she didn’t have experience in parenting. At some point I realized I had to take charge of the things I wanted to accomplish in life”, he recalls.
Edwin discovered art, particularly dancing, as a channel for personal expression and a way to manage what he was experiencing in life – not an easy road to take for a teenage boy in a small community. “So much in middle schools is about fitting in”, he explains, so he struggled to stay committed to his passion for dance and to his goals, and to find the energy to excel in his schoolwork amid peer rejection and the ups and downs of teenage life.
P.E.C.E.S.’ alternative high school provided Edwin with a safe, loving environment in which he flourished academically and personally. “They [teachers] welcomed me, always found ways to communicate with me, and nurtured my personal growth”, Edwin reflects about his high school years.
Through this experience, Edwin became a volunteer in peer mentoring for his schoolmates. “At P.E.C.E.S. I rediscovered hope. They listened to me and paid attention to my needs, and I was able to do the same for others”.
As a college freshman, Edwin’s plans include a degree in business management and furthering his idea for a dance school – which he is redesigning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Edwin is one of over a thousand graduates from P.E.C.E.S. high school in the last 15 years – more than one thousand students that at one point were at risk of not finishing high school nor achieving their dreams. Each of them with their personal challenges. All of them deserving a second chance, which P.E.C.E.S. provided tuition-free.
You can support P.E.C.E.S.’ work by sharing some love today through the 2020 campaign. Your support will bring hope to a teenager with a dream, like Edwin.