Cheering on the Future Leaders of West Dallas: Class of 2018
The Search Institute defines perseverance as “young people’s ability to achieve important goals and accomplish challenging tasks in school and in life” (www.search-institute.org). Based on that definition, this year’s class of 2018 students at Mercy Street are a persevering crew. 100% of our current senior mentees have just graduated high school, and 89% have plans to attend college. Other senior students participating in Sports, the Leadership Institute, and the Bike Shop are following the same path. The variety of colleges across the country selected by our students include the University of Central Arkansas, University of Houston, Texas Southern University, UNT Dallas, community colleges such as El Centro, Mountain View, and Cedar Valley, and Lim College of New York. Several students are even pursuing baseball scholarships, basketball scholarships, and fashion.
Mercy Street’s aim is to spark Christ-honoring community restoration by engaging in mutually-transforming relationships with the future leaders of West Dallas - these are our future leaders. We are proud to cheer on these students as they embark on their next big adventure. Allow us to highlight several of our stellar students, including their dreams for the future, upcoming plans, and words of wisdom.
Destiny has traveled down nearly all of the avenues that Mercy Street offers: mentorship, middle school Bible study, high school Bible study, Earn a Bike program, summer internships in both the Cafe and the Workshop, Street Team, Mexico mission trips, Colorado hiking trips, Pine Cove camp, and even a leadership trip to Italy. She explains that her journey began on the last day of third grade, when she urgently applied for a mentor knowing that Mercy Street’s mentoring program begins with students in fourth grade. “Mercy Street has been my second home forever,” she says affectionately. “I probably spend as much time here as I do at home.”
Destiny’s mentorship was her first introduction to reading and studying God’s Word. In addition, her mentor was always quick to ask if Destiny needed help with school work or if her mom needed help taking care of Destiny and her siblings. Destiny watched her mentor go through the timeline of being single, entering into a relationship, getting married, and having children. Destiny even alludes to Mercy Street’s hope for mutually-transforming relationships - “We both learned stuff from each other.” Her Street Team leaders also serve as influential forces in her life by modeling authenticity, sharing the truth with no sugar-coating, and engaging in topics that are important to their Street Team girls. Destiny’s mom has been her rock, rooting for her for a lifetime. Holistically, all of these women have been essential in her life’s narrative.
Destiny will be attending the University of Houston to study Biology, with the goal of becoming a midwife. The appeal of building relationships with patients and guiding them through such an important process speaks to Destiny’s nature of organically connecting with everyone she encounters. However, her lifelong hope trumps any career choice: “I just want to be happy, no matter what I am doing.” She sees happiness as an umbrella that envelopes all other choices and dreams - having a family, traveling, maintaining a life she loves. Her advice to the younger generation is to “embrace obstacles, because God would not put you through anything He knows you cannot handle.”
Mosses is a faithful visitor to the Mercy Street Bike Shop. On afternoons off from soccer practice, he can be found in the garage tinkering with bikes, playing basketball, or conversing with the Bike Shop Coordinator and student employees. He went through the Earn a Bike program as a ninth grader and continued to stick around as a welcome presence. Quiet but confident, he confesses that working in the Bike Shop gave him an interest in Mechanical Engineering, which he mentions as a second option for an Associate Degree. But first, veterinary classes.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I have always wanted to be a vet,” he smiles. The proud owner of two dogs, two cats, and two fish, he is responsible for feeding his pets and managing their medications. His plan to translate this passion into a career is to attend Cedar Valley Community College for two years and gain the credentials to become a veterinary technician. If the shoe still fits, he hopes to continue on to veterinary school.
As an enthusiast for his high school mathematics, science, and anatomy & physiology classes, he expresses appreciation to his teachers for four years of support and education. He thanks his mom for her role as his biggest cheerleader and and unconditional supporter. Lastly, he has kind words for the Mercy Street Bike Shop Coordinator, who has been a confidant and advice-giver to Mosses. “Will is someone I can trust,” Mosses explains. “He taught me how to fix a bike from scratch and serves as a mentor to me.”
Mosses dreams of one day visiting California to meet his extended family. He is also looking forward to his newfound freedom in the fall and finally bringing to life a dream that has been brewing since he was a child.
When I ask Tamaje what her lifelong hopes and dreams include, she does not hesitate: to know who she is and where she fits in to the world. To manage her finances well. To build a stronger relationship with Christ. To be genuinely happy. To have an aquarium in her future home.
Tamaje’s quick wit and communication skills make her an excellent candidate for her current career goal, which is to become an occupational therapist. She will be attending a Historically Black College, Texas Southern University, in the fall to major in Kinesiology with a minor in Biology.
Tamaje was introduced to Mercy Street in the ninth grade when she and her family moved to West Dallas. Since walking through the Mercy Street doors, Tamaje has been a mentee, Pine Cove camper, intern for the Mercy Street Cafe and Workshop, and four-year member of a Street Team. Her Street Team leaders demonstrated unconditional acceptance to her in a way that was free of judgement, safe for emotions, and welcoming of imperfections. Her summer college interns forged relationships that lasted beyond the three-month internship. Her mentor gave her a glimpse into marriage, children, and adoption. In Tamaje’s words, “My relationship with God has grown because of Mercy Street. The more I came here, the more I wanted to help my family know what I learned. Mercy Street made me want to stay here in West Dallas.”
A nugget of wisdom that she offers to younger generations of West Dallas is to take every opportunity that they are granted. In her short but powerful words, she declares: “Do not give up, keep a good head on your shoulders, and do not be afraid to say no.”