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Mosaic Artwork for Joseph

Joseph | South Carolina

I was dealing with grief and facing other challenges at home, and I struggled to balance working long hours with school and athletics. Then I found a caring adult in my school who recognized my passion for art and encouraged me to invest in my future. With his help, I developed a plan to attend art school and pursue my dream career as an animator.

Find out what I’m made of. Click on the items below to explore my portrait, and hover over the left navigation for more of my story.

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Rose and Marigolds

The summer before her freshman year, I lost my little sister at the age of sixteen. The rose represents her, and the marigolds represent Día de Los Muertos, a Latin American holiday where families celebrate the lives of loved ones who are no longer with us.

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Broken Glass

It was hard for me and my family. Feelings of stress and unhappiness challenged me throughout high school. Before Communities In Schools found me, I felt I was alone and had few places to turn to.

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Running Shoes

I ran for my school’s cross-country team during my junior year while balancing long work hours. During tough times, I’ve been able to channel negative feelings into running—where I was able to grow my relationship with Coach Casson. It’s become a huge, positive outlet for me.

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In the beginning of sophomore year, in foster care, I attended St. John's High School. The school logo features an anchor. Separating from my mom and my home was tough and really hard for me. But it allowed me to think and see the bigger picture—to put the pieces of my life together.

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Time Cards

Working long hours to support my mom and two younger brothers, academic support has been a crucial part of helping me keep my grades and attendance on track while balancing my work schedule.

Joseph – Cropped Portrait

Joseph is a senior at R.B. Stall High School in North Charleston, South Carolina. Despite facing grief and challenges at home, Joseph balanced working long hours with school and athletics. Joseph met Andy Casson, a site coordinator for Communities In Schools of the Charleston Area, who supported Joseph’s passion for art and invested in his future. With Andy’s help, Joseph now has a structured plan to attend art school and pursue his dream career as an animator.

The death of a loved one is tough, but Día de los Muertos helps us cope.
We know that Día de los Muertos is important to you. What does that day mean to you personally?

Día de los Muertos not only allows me to feel my heritage, but it also gives my mom and me some peace. One day, I came home and saw our bookshelf filled with candles and pictures of my sister. The death of a loved one is tough, but Día de los Muertos helps us cope.

What is something about you that others don’t always see?

My resilience to adversity.

What is one thing you want the world to know about you?

I want the world to know my story, no matter what they take from it.
I hope my story connects with someone and helps them realize that they’re not the only one with weight on their shoulders. That’s what I want the world to know.

60 %

of youth do not get treatment for diagnosable depression. SAMHSA, 2014

What is the biggest challenge facing
students today?

Finding social acceptance. In this age of social media, I feel that students are yearning to be like celebrities, or they feel pressured to be someone they’re not.

What is one thing your Communities In Schools coordinator told you or taught you that you’ll never forget?

My site coordinator taught me many things, but one that I will always remember is that education is the key to helping support me and my family. Once I get a degree and pursue my career, I can come back and support my family tremendously.

What do you hope or plan to do after high school?

After high school, I hope to attend my local technical college and then transfer to an art college like SCAD, Ringling, SAIC, or MassArt for a bachelor’s degree in animation.




How did you first start running cross country? How do you feel when you’re running?

I first ran cross country my junior year with my best friend; I wanted to cross a sport off my list of things to experience in high school. While running, I felt like I only had a few things on my mind: getting from point A to point B, my breathing, and my footwork. I wasn’t running from my problems or forgetting about them, but I was calm and focused.

If you could snap your fingers and be an expert on anything in the world, what would you choose?

Public speaking. Speaking to people face-to-face or to large groups can be tough, and I feel like many teenagers struggle with speaking their mind. But once you gain that confidence, no one can take it away
from you.