YB Story | Willard S.

Headshot of Willard holding his daughter.

My name is Willard, a nationally recognized AmeriCorps member. Before I was introduced to YouthBuild Austin, I was uncertain of my future, confused, and lost in life. I just got out of doing 18 months in jail and I had no education, I was unemployed, and I was clueless.

Before I was evicted from my last place, I lived down the street from American YouthWorks. Every time I rode the bus I was curious about the place I passed. After I was denied at Job Corps, I decided to see what American YouthWorks was all about.

I started planning on getting my GED. After I failed the first GED test, I felt discouraged and wanted to quit school again but the staff came up with another plan. I was informed I could try and take my TAKS tests over the summer and if I did well there might be a possibility of me being able to get my diploma. So I stuck it out and passed all four TAKS tests and enrolled into the diploma program.

I also participated in the Media Corps program. We learned how to refurbish computers that we donated to low-income families. Along with that we learned how to use Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and Premiere Pro and earned certifications. We learned graphic design, screen-printing and wood engraving, filming, video editing, and so on…

Mind you, I began trying to get my GED and I finished with a high school diploma. I just walked the stage at graduation with my whole family and little girl watching thanks to the amazing staff at YouthBuild Austin. Now I plan to get a job with the City of Austin. I have my second interview next week! That’s not all…I already have a plan to get my CDL and go to college for music.