Nick was a troubled kid, getting bad grades and hanging out with the wrong crowd. His traditionally conservative father wanted him to become a barber just like him. He gradually became very active and involved with the Bukharian Teen Lounge, which had a transformative impact on his life.

In Nick’s own words, written May 2013:
I am a senior at Forest Hills High School. My mom came to the U.S. from Uzbekistan and my dad came from Israel. They got divorced before I was born. My childhood was pretty good, but something happened to me in high school. I fell into the wrong crowd. I was cutting classes, picked up by truant officers, received multiple dean warnings and my grades were bad. I was barely passing my classes.

Two years ago, I heard a speaker from JCCA’s Bukharian Teen Lounge. I checked it out and met staff who greeted me warmly. I slowly took part in Lounge activities. One activity that I especially liked was mentoring special needs kids in soccer and Karate. After a year or so, staff talked to me about my problems and also told me about a big opportunity to join the leadership board and learn how to become a leader myself, not a follower (as I was once influenced to cut school and be up to no good).

I applied for the work internship program, but the director told me my grades were not good enough to be accepted into the program. That was pretty true, but I did get a 95 in a criminal justice class that I really liked. I told the director that I was naturally interested in law and my grade proved it. The director thought for a while and decided to give me a chance. I think she saw something in me and she placed me in the Queens County District Attorney’s office as an intern.

That summer changed me forever. I had an unforgettable experience there. I felt so comfortable in the D.A.’s office. I liked the environment and the opportunity to see the work of lawyers firsthand. The Lounge had seminars on how to handle problems at work, how to write a resume, how to interview and how to dress for work. That summer, it became my dream to become an attorney. However, it was not easy since my father did not want me to pursue this career. He felt that becoming a barber, like him, would give me a trade and that I would be able to always make a living. However, I wanted something different for myself. My father and I had a big blowup over this, but I am sticking to my guns!

I worked hard to improve my grades. Today my overall G.P.A. is 85 and above, and I have stayed out of trouble. I also became Vice President of the Teen Lounge Leadership Board. I will be attending John Jay College, where I will work on my Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, and hope to head straight to law school.

I would like to thank JCCA’s Bukharian Teen Lounge for believing in me and giving me the chance that I needed. It changed my life!”