“Defining myself, as opposed to being defined by others, is one of the most difficult challenges I face.” Those words, written by Carol Moseley-Braun, have became an adage that continues to guide my life. Life has a way of forcing one to grow; making one see things through different lenses; testing one’s dedication and commitment in seeking your goals. During my freshman and sophomore years of high school I had never really thought about college as being a choice for me. I believe that others saw me as a class clown. Unfortunately, their perception was supported by my low grades and poor choices. What has changed since then? Toward the end of my sophomore year I became interested in a program called “Developing Tomorrow’s Professionals” (DTP), which was recommended to me by my principal. Even with her recommendation I was not chosen for the program due to my grades. I was disappointed and knew I needed to make changes. I chose to work harder to improve my grades and would re-apply the following year. During the summer before my junior year, I consulted with former members of the DTP program. I asked questions regarding how I might make myself a better candidate. Their feedback motivated me to excel in my studies and to continue to grow as a person. I realized that I did not know how to study, nor did I have very good study habits. I usually went on YouTube to search for information on topics I was learning about in order to try to improve my test scores. While this helped, in the long run it simply was not enough to excel. I also learned that the people you associate with can influence you for better or worse. Eventually I realized, I needed to stand apart from some of my friends until I got everything organized within my life. In the middle of junior year, it was time to apply for the program again. After all of my hard work I finally was accepted to DTP! I felt ready for the challenge! The first activity was getting fitted for a suit. DTP believes that if we look like professionals, we would feel more like professionals. The feeling of having the suit made me feel powerful, and gave me confidence to make the necessary changes in my life. During the program, we were required to attend ten consecutive academic Saturdays at Southern Connecticut State University. During these sessions we participated in four hours of instruction in a carefully crafted, highly demanding program. Academic Saturdays included a combination of thought provoking discourse, rigorous writing prompts, college readiness lectures, and assessments designed to prepare us for our futures. We focused on fatherhood and leadership, and most importantly, the transition from high school to college. Now as a young man, I am aware that each man has principles to follow. DTP has taught me that I must “establish my own standards of achievement and the principles that will make these standards of life a reality in every decision I make for the rest of my life”. My friends and peers have noticed these changes in me. They put their confidence in me by voting for me as their class president this year! Also my coaches and teammates chose me as one of the captains of the football team. Despite my late start in planning for college, I believe I’m ready to face the challenges that await me. I’ve improved my study habits and time management skills. But more importantly, I have matured into the student I’ve always wanted to be. As I learned from DTP, “I am a man who starts each day in VICTORY and ends each day VICTORIOUS”.