Ruben dropped out of school at 17 and began working in a factory where he was called racial slurs and cheated out of wages. His parents didn’t place a lot of value in education and believed working was more important than a diploma. He eventually returned to high school, earning a 4.0 GPA and graduated at the top of his class.
Ruben longed for more and used the money he earned working to enroll in the City Colleges of Chicago, paying for his tuition out-of-pocket. Since going to school wasn’t part of his family’s plan, his father told him he either had to find a job or find somewhere else to live. So, Ruben left. He found the La Casa Student Housing and Resource Center and began living there, but soon found himself feeling lonely and ended up withdrawing from school and returning home to work for his father.
In time, Ruben heard about Year Up Chicago, a program that helped low-income young adults develop skills and supported them through internships and coursework. He enrolled in the program but soon after, his mother passed away, causing him to struggle with his studies. When staff confronted him, he began crying and wanted to quit school. Instead, the Year Up staff found him a counselor who referred him to Mercy Home.
As soon as Ruben got to Mercy Home he knew he’d found a group of people who wanted to help him. The staff kept him on target to finish the Year Up program and then go on to participate in internships. Now 23, Ruben is finishing his degree at Harold Washington College and hopes to enter the cybersecurity field. Mercy Home gave Ruben a safe place to refocus and get his life on track. Read more about Ruben’s story here.