In His Own Words: MBK Builds Confidence and Connection
By Sergio Jose, Lincoln High School Class of 2019
What might surprise a lot of people about My Brother’s Keeper is that a group of young men can come together and become as strong as a real family. It surprised me. When I started high school, I always isolated myself from a lot of people. When I joined Lincoln MBK in 10th grade, I had a chance to feel comfortable with my MBK brothers and share what was really going on with me. MBK brought together students from all different backgrounds. We realized that we were all brothers going through similar struggles in life and conquering those obstacles together. For example, last year I tore the ACL and meniscus in my knee, which stopped me in my tracks. The injury and then the surgery prevented me from living a normal life. I couldn’t walk; I couldn’t go to school and I couldn’t play football, the sport that I loved. My MBK brothers were always there to help me and support me through the recovery process.
The self-confidence I developed through our MBK mentors’ guidance has already empowered me to achieve more in life. I was never a good student or public speaker. This year, I earned my place on the honor roll for the first time. I am on track to be the first person in my family to graduate high school. If I had never joined MBK I think my life would have taken a turn for the worse. My older brothers’ negative actions got the best of them. They never finished high school and always got in trouble with the law. They always told me that I needed to follow my own path, but it seemed almost impossible because I had no role model to follow. By showing me a different way and supporting me through it, MBK helped to break the cycle of incarceration in my family. MBK has been my way out.
Throughout my time in MBK, I’ve experienced many amazing moments. I had the opportunity to develop my public speaking skills by presenting my MBK involvement to visitors from the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, the Yonkers’ Mayor’s Office, community groups, school district leaders and many others. These experiences have all brought joy to my life.
One moment that truly stands above the rest was welcoming seventh and eighth graders from the Enrico Fermi School into MBK. We visited the school in November for an induction ceremony and took the time to talk about our lives and the challenges we faced in high schools. The students were so interested to learn from us. It felt great to be a mentor to them and provide a glimpse of what life is like in high school. Afterward, we flipped the script and allowed them to speak to us about the challenges they were currently facing. This moment captured the essence of MBK. It put us in the position to make an impact on our younger MBK brothers over at Enrico Fermi.
I wish MBK existed back in my middle school days. Many of us don't have someone to go to with our struggles whether it's family, teachers, or friends. Visiting a middle school again made me wish I could restart my life and be the amazing student that I am today but years earlier. If I could turn back the hands of time, I would change how I so often acted out. At the time I didn’t realize how my negative decisions would impact my future. I would’ve been a better student and a better person in life. If the high school "me" could only go back and teach middle school "me" the error in my ways, then I would have entered high school with a greater sense of seriousness.
Without MBK I probably wouldn't have been the man I am today. It proved itself to be the right program to join. I would like to thank my supporters throughout MBK for helping to write this successful chapter in my life.