by: Karlos Coleman, LFLA Class of 2017

My name is Karlos Coleman. I am 18 years old in the 12th grade, and I have been attending Lift for Life Academy for 7 years. Over the years, Lift For Life has helped me overcome several things in my personal life that have affected my performance at school. Have you ever been in a situation where you were too nervous to speak? I used to have that feeling every day: whether I was in class, in the hallways, at school or family events – I just couldn’t seem to find my voice. I was nervous I might say something wrong or stupid, and was worried everyone would notice.

When I came to Lift for Life in the sixth grade, I didn’t attempt to make any friends. I kept to myself and observed everyone that was around me. It was easier to just be quiet and get through the day. But 7th grade was the year that things began to change. The teachers had made it easier to socialize because they mixed all of the students up in class. They didn’t have any favorites, they never separated us based on popularity and they allowed us to make friends while learning. Up to that point, I always felt that people only ever talked to me because they knew my older sisters. But as I started to find my voice in the classroom, I realized that my peers valued my thoughts and ideas – sometimes even more than I did.

My 7th grade math teacher, Mr. Morrison, was one of the first people to believe in me. When I was young, my father had never really been involved with my life. I would see him once every blue moon or what seems like once throughout the whole year. It had finally kicked in that I would never really see him again on my 15th birthday. I was over at his mother’s house on that day when I was expecting him to be there. But he never showed up and that’s when I finally broke into tears and realized that his absence in my life had stolen my voice from me. I had grown up thinking that I wasn’t good enough because he wasn’t there. But today, I know that that isn’t true. People at Lift For Life like Mr. Morrison taught me that my dad doesn’t have to be the only male role model in my life. A father can be anyone you look up to and aspire to learn from.

That’s the thing about Lift For Life Academy. We’re not just a school; we’re each other’s family. The people at Lift for Life will go far and wide to see their students graduate. This year, I have been accepted into all six schools that I applied to, and I have chosen to go to Webster University to study Video Game Design. When I was struggling socially, I was always able to connect with other people by playing video games with them and talking about games that we were interested in. I hope that by creating new games, I can help students find their voice just like I was able to do.