Graduate, Daniel, read his moving essay in court on the completion of his sentence. We are very proud of him.


A year ago tomorrow will make a year after one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my life. I regret what I’ve done and wish I can do it all over but sometimes it’s the mistakes and trials we go through in life that make us who we are. This past year has revealed a lot to me about the person I am and the person I’m becoming. I’ve made a mistake but I won’t let that one mistake hold me back from doing right in my life as well as being a successful person. With everything from therapy, to counseling to the Young New Yorkers program, there was always something or someone there to help me along my way. To know that I’m looked at as a criminal for my mistake makes me disappointed but to hear that I am better than that is bliss. I’ve said this once before and I’ll say it again, just because someone does something wrong it doesn’t mean they’re a bad person. Some people need to go through certain scenarios in life to make them realize certain things about themselves. This whole arrest has just shown me that there’s people out there who actually believe in me and know I can do something with my life. Even the Young New Yorkers staff believed in me when I only knew them for a few weeks. It’s weird to comprehend the kind of relationship that grew among the staff and the members over just a few weeks but I’m truly happy to have met such an amazing group of people. They believed in us while others simply judged us. There’s more to a book than just its cover and in so many ways this quote applies to me. I’ve learned that people will only judge you by your actions before they even get to know you. So why not show the world what I can do in a positive way instead of a negative way? Why not make the people around me proud instead of disappointed? Its questions like this that help me stay on the right path. I’ve made a mistake and I will learn from it, as well as look past it. The past year showed me to take responsibility for my actions and that you hold your future in your hands. I’m growing up and each day I understand a little bit more about the things around me and I just want to continue my life knowing this mistake has shaped me into the person I am today. If I can go back to last year and do the whole thing over I would but knowing what I know now and how much I’ve grown I probably wouldn’t. This has only made me a stronger person and is helping me grow up to be a responsible young man.

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