Growing up in an ALICE family, DJ knew what it was like to barely get by. He knew how to stretch every dollar and that he wanted a different future for himself one day.
When he got to college, DJ was on his own. He worked two jobs on top of his classes. It was tough, but he was committed to finishing school and building the life he wanted. He graduated from Texas A&M University and secured his first post-college job. But even with his degree, DJ was barely making enough to get by.
He was ALICE once again.
DJ began driving for Uber in his spare time to earn extra money. He worked overtime whenever possible and borrowed money from friends and family to make ends meet. He couldn’t afford health insurance or anything that wasn’t absolutely critical.
DJ remembers the dread he felt when he found out his car needed a costly repair. Not only could he not afford the fix, he would miss out on the much-needed extra income he earned as an Uber driver if his car wasn’t in good repair. It was hard to ask for help, but DJ had no choice. He got a loan from a friend and worked out a plan to pay back every penny.
“When you need help, help is not always there,” DJ says. “I had to step outside my comfort zone and ask people I would never imagine asking for help.”
Now, DJ has a new job that has allowed him to finish paying off that loan. He is no longer ALICE but he has not forgotten what it feels like to work hard and struggle to make ends meet. As a college and career counselor, DJ now helps young people see possibilities they may not be able to see on their own – after all, he was able to see beyond what many thought was possible for him.
“I always tell myself I want to be that person I needed when I was younger. I want to be that person for somebody else,” DJ says. “I want to continue to let people know that, no matter what or where you come from, what you look like, who you are, you can be that change for somebody. You can be that guardian angel, that person that somebody needs.”