DJ didn’t let his life circumstances deter him from a successful academic career and hopeful future.
“I saw the Hide In Plain Sight scholarship as someone making an investment in me. HIPS didn’t just look at me as another homeless kid with little to no odds of making it, but rather got to know me on a personal level and showed me that there is a way out. Not only just there is a way out, but they made me believe in myself when not many others did.”
These are the words of Damian (DJ) who lived with his father and stepmother in Colorado until his junior year of high school when he was sent to live with his mother in North Carolina due to unforeseen problems. He and his mom moved from place to place, sometimes living in a one bedroom house without A/C or heating, and often without water or electricity. At one point they found themselves homeless, and DJ moved back to Colorado with his girlfriend’s family. Without money or resources, DJ finished his high school career by taking online classes and working to save up money for college. With the aid of his girlfriend’s family, he learned about HIPS and their scholarship program, as well as, their partnership with Black Diamond Eye Care. During his senior year in high school, DJ received his first pair of glasses and was awarded a scholarship to go to college. “Joe and the team really saw something in me and they wanted to help and support me in reaching my goals,” said DJ.
DJ attended the University of South Florida and graduated this past Spring with Honors, having earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a Major in Marketing. This fall he began his one year Master’s program in Marketing with an emphasis in Digital Marketing and Brand Management. Additionally, DJ works as a Marketing Specialist at Checkpoint Technologies in Florida and he and his girlfriend are now engaged and planning to marry this year. “Since accepting the scholarship, I have been blessed with guidance from Joe and all the other Hide In Plain Sight members throughout my college experience on multiple occasions. The scholarship was also a huge financial help. I have had to work my way through college in order to afford to live, but the scholarship made living everyday life much more comfortable and manageable.”