My life was perfect a few years ago. I had a great group of friends and was in a good mental state. This all changed when I went through a life-changing event: my father was indicted for 90 years by a federal grand jury. The situation was exacerbated when he was arrested in Brooklyn on my birthday for allegedly witnessing evidence tampering. During this tumultuous time, my grades plummeted. I saw therapists my school provided. Unfortunately, they were not as helpful as I would have hoped, often saying: "no one we know has ever gone through this, so we don"t know how to help." In the words of Roy T. Bennett, "My past is a place of reference, not a place of residence." While this quote does resonate with me, I still struggle to this day with the ramifications and, unfortunately, sometimes regress to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Even though I have faced my life-changing event, which involved my father having an immense dependence on me overnight, after overcoming this, I realized that others may still need to overcome their life-changing events. Based on that need, I decided to help other teens by creating my non-profit organization, "Teens Thriving Together Inc." Its mission is to empower young people through whatever troubles they face. One of the most impactful stories for me involved a friend who lives in Pakistan, who faced a challenging stigma preventing him from receiving the professional help he needed, and which Teens Thriving Together provided a safe space for him to share. We didn"t solve all of his problems, but the fact that he confided in us and used us as a support group along with our resources meant the world. Today, because of the past challenges, I have developed empathy toward others, a sense of resilience, confidence, and a spiritual understanding of faith as a Christian. I plan to pursue my life"s mission to be a source of light to others.




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