When Javier was in 6th grade, his mother was deported under Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 law. A few months later, after moving to Tucson to live with his father, the unexpected occurred: Javier’s father was deported, too. Although Javier was surrounded by friends and relatives, he just couldn’t seem to find stability. For several years, he hopped from one relative’s couch to another – living with distant family members for a few weeks, then moving on to the next house when finances got tight. He had been living with his older brother for a few months when one day, his brother packed his things and moved out-of-state… leaving Javier once again on his own.

Despite the volatility he has endured, Javier has still managed to stay motivated and focused. Not only did he maintain a 4.1 GPA and become involved with several different activities – like choir and National Honor Society – but he also thrived on the basketball court as his high school’s star athlete. He credits basketball for helping him develop such a strong work ethic and helping him build resiliency. According to Javier, “I’ve faced a lot of obstacles in my life, but I didn’t let that affect what was going to occur in my future.”

With the help of the Youth On Their Own program, Javier graduated from high school in 2016 with nearly $50,000 in scholarships. As a first-generation college student, education is incredibly important to him. Javier looks forward to having his own dorm room at the University of Arizona, where he plans to study either business or medicine. In Javier’s own words. “I realized that life happens, and you’ve just got to deal with it… it’s what you make of it, honestly. Everything happens for a reason and, in this sense I’m glad because I was able to learn from it all and become wiser.”