Daquan, 18, has been at Edenwald Center (a JCCA residential program for boys with emotional and behavioral difficulties) and a student at the Edenwald school for 4½ years. He just became the first student from Edenwald to receive a Regents Diploma, and has just started attending Bronx Community College.

His early childhood was difficult. He was in and out of foster homes and various programs. “I came to JCCA from other programs and was having a lot of behavioral problems. I was angry and didn’t want to listen anyone. I was acting out,” he says.

At JCCA, his counselors and teachers supported him and taught him how to control his anger. “I learned certain tricks when someone upsets me—that I can count to 10 or listen to music, and that helps me stay calm and focused.”

Once Daquan began to control his anger, he noticed that his grades started to improve and he could turn his attention to studying. “I started to relax and focus on what I really wanted: to graduate high school. The assistant teacher/recreation coordinator, Mr. Adams, encouraged me to look at my larger goals. He motivated me and didn’t give up on me. So now I don’t give up on myself. He is like a father figure to me.” JCCA provided a wide range of other services and support for Daquan, such as group counseling, sports, music and trips to museums.

Daquan graduated on August 17. “I was so excited about the graduation. I believed in myself and I did it! I hope other kids can follow in my footsteps,” he adds enthusiastically.

Annelise Valerio, Educational Coordinator at JCCA, proudly maintains, “Daquan is a role model for other students at Edenwald. They see that he did it and perhaps they can, too.”

Starting at Bronx Community College is a big step toward his dream of becoming a basketball coach. He loves the sport and is a star player, averaging 20 points a game. “I want to be a coach to help other kids overcome what they have been through, so that they can become positive and motivated like me,” he continues. And he hopes that one day his coaching will lead him, somehow, to work with the NBA.

As he embarks on his studies and the new chapter in his life, Daquan exclaims confidently, “I know Mr. Adams and all the JCCA staff will be there rooting me on!”