Dyllan has faced more than his share of barriers in his 17 years of life.
To the determined, though, barriers are much more than an insurmountable obstacle in the path – they become the steppingstones on which strength is developed and the future is built. Instead of allowing his barriers to stop him from reaching his goals, Dyllan uses his barriers to motivate him throughout his life.
Living in poverty and surrounded by crime and instability, Dyllan had the cards stacked against him. He was labeled as a gifted child but didn’t have access to many opportunities. Constantly worried about his unpredictable housing and food insufficiency, Dyllan’s youth was consumed by concerns that were too great for a young person to bear. His undiagnosed PTSD and ADHD were daily battles that he didn’t even know he was fighting, and his school experience was riddled with punishment and discipline instead of support.
He made decisions that got him in trouble, but it was the exact push he needed to pursue a better future. With the support of the Eckerd Connects Project Bridge team, Dyllan received the resources and support he needed to dismantle his barriers to success and turn his life into something he was proud of.
Against the odds, Dyllan graduated from Riverview High School in Sarasota, Florida. He worked hard to obtain his driver’s license and saved diligently to afford his first car, biking back and forth to school and work to make it happen. Our Project Bridge staff members say that he is hands down one of the most determined youth they have ever worked with.
Dyllan achieved his goal of becoming a mechanic at Kia and was accepted into the Mechanics Program at Sarasota Technical Institute where he currently attends with excelling grades. He received a PNC scholarship for post-secondary support and supplies as he pursues his education and future career. Committed to increasing the quality of care in the juvenile justice system, Dyllan has participated in DJJ advisory meetings to share his experiences and subsequent success, advocating for the resources that made the difference for him.
Dyllan sees a future that is very different from his past, and he knows better than most that a turnaround is always within reach for those who believe in themselves. Through a Success Award from Eckerd Connects, he was able to put new tires on his vehicle and now has gas money to help him through the unprecedented inflation of 2022.
This young man is living proof that a determined mind working alongside a compassionate and generous village can and will overcome barriers to success. His story doesn’t end here, though: Dyllan is working to find stable housing while he’s a full-time student and part-time employee as he approaches his 18th birthday.
The next time you read about Dyllan, you will see an even longer list of barriers that he is overcome. His story is the illustration of success.
“I want to thank you all and Project Bridge for the support and kindness,” Dyllan shared. “You believed in me from day one and that means so much to me!”
Learn more about Project Bridge or find a program near you below.