DJ refused to let his difficult life circumstances hold him back from realizing his academic potential and securing a bright future.
“The Hide In Plain Sight scholarship was more than just a financial investment – it was a belief in my potential. Rather than just seeing me as another homeless kid with limited prospects, they took the time to get to know me on a personal level and showed me that there was a path to success. They not only revealed the way out but instilled in me the confidence to believe in myself when few others did.”
These are the reflections of Damian (DJ), whose life took an unexpected turn during his junior year of high school. Forced to leave the stability of his home with his father and stepmother, he found himself starting over with his mother in North Carolina.
Life was far from easy for DJ and his mother during their time in North Carolina. They found themselves sleeping on the couch in a decrepit one-bedroom trailer, struggling to make ends meet with limited resources. Unfortunately, their next refuge with a friend would be short-lived, as she passed away from a drug overdose. This left them homeless again until DJ was offered to move in with his girlfriend’s (now wife’s) family in Colorado.
Despite facing tough financial and resource constraints, DJ persevered and completed his high school education through online classes and hard work, saving up for college. With the help of his girlfriend’s family, he discovered the Hide In Plain Sight scholarship program in partnership with Black Diamond Eye Care and received his first pair of glasses. His determination and potential caught the attention of Joe Roos and the HIPS team, who believed in him and made a commitment to support him in realizing his aspirations. As DJ expresses, “They saw something in me and were willing to help me reach my goals.”
With the support of the Hide In Plain Sight scholarship, DJ achieved academic excellence, graduating from the University of South Florida with honors with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing. He went on to marry his longtime girlfriend and now serves as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at L.O.V.E. Restaurant Group while also lending his expertise as a digital marketing advisor for Hide In Plain Sight and as an Alumni Advisor at the University of South Florida. To top it off, he’s on track to earn a Master of Science in Marketing this Spring. DJ attributes much of his success to the guidance and support he received from Hide In Plain Sight, stating “The scholarship not only provided financial relief, but it also offered a community of support throughout my college journey. Joe and the Hide In Plain Sight team have been instrumental in my growth and success, and I am forever grateful for their help.”