Leo Jerald, a sophomore at Fremont Federation’s Media Academy, won a $500 scholarship for this essay in a statewide contest.
I am a young black male growing up in East Oakland. Where I come from, black males are given two choices in life, either school or selling narcotics. This may seem like an easy choice for you, but when your family is hungry and you are the man of the house, you can’t bring a school book home for dinner.
I know that California leaders should save me a spot in college because I can do more for my community besides support their drug habits. With this college opportunity, I would like to open a boys club for young males of all races and give them courage to do something positive with their life. Most of the time, it is planted in people’s minds that black males are crooks, drug dealers and users, but that is because most of us never had a real opportunity to do something good in life. Most kids like me want a spot in college but 90 percent of us already have a spot for us in the streets. Around here, college is a fairytale place that won’t become reality.
I would like to open a boys and girls club because when I attended a boys and girls club, there were people there to help me through my problems in life. Now I feel like now it is my turn to pass down the words of wisdom. Although I don’t know most of the kids, I don’t want them to go through what I had to go through. If my spot shall be denied, I can’t stop because it’s my job to help these kids. And it won’t be anything personal, I will still invite you to my wedding when I marry the streets.