Success means different things to different people. For some, it’s graduating from high school or landing a dream job. For others, it’s having the opportunity to build a stable family. Whatever our scholars define as success, Pivotal strives to get them there. And every time we check in with past scholars and see how far they’ve come, we know we’ve done our job. In our “Where Are They Now?” series, we’re catching up with four Pivotal Alumni to share their personal journeys to success.
When Cicero was first introduced to Pivotal, he was simply applying for a scholarship. He had no idea that one simple task would change the trajectory of his life. That was almost 10 years ago, and since then, Pivotal staff and coaches have worked alongside Cicero every step of the way. Cicero graduated from the University of San Francisco and currently works at an edtech company in Oregon. As he prepares his daughter to start high school, he’s made it his mission to surround her with the stability and security he didn’t have growing up.
How did you find out about and initially get involved with Pivotal?
While my daughter and I were both going to school and I was also working, I was involved with a few different programs to support our living costs. Unity Care Group connected me with Pivotal to apply for their scholarship. I signed up but had no idea the extent that this relationship would go. It was an entire journey of meeting different people and getting support, from writing a resume to having conversations with their staff about “adulting.” The people at Pivotal were by far the most valuable resource.
When you think about your journey, is there a speed bump that you overcame along the way?
I think this is common for a lot of foster youth, but I’ve always struggled with imposter syndrome. I felt this throughout my entire childhood, and even at times today. Questions like, “do I belong here?” or “am I good enough for the company?” run through my mind. I constantly feel like I need to prove my worth and that I belong.
When was your Pivotal pivot? When did things start to change for you?
The biggest change in my life happened about 3 years ago. I had my heart broken by a woman, and it ended up being the best thing to happen to me. Instead of focusing on the negative, it made me realize that I needed to do more with my life. I was tired of doing the bare minimum to get by, so I quit my job, applied to the one I have now and moved forward with my life. I’m in a much better place now than I ever was then.
What are you planning on doing next?
Right now, my focus is on my daughter. She’s about to start high school, so my biggest priority is making sure she feels stable and safe so she can focus on school. I want to give my daughter the security I never had in high school. She’s interested in coding and developing games so we’ll see where that takes her, but I want her to focus on school right now.
What's the one accomplishment that you're most proud of?
I have to say my daughter, of course. She’s the best thing to happen to me. But I’m also really proud of the relationship I built with my daughter’s mother and stepdad. It took years of hard work, but I love that we’re able to provide my daughter with stability and be a family together.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would give no advice. If I changed any little bit of my journey, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I am the person I am because of all of the choices I made along the way - both good and bad.
What's your favorite memory of working with Pivotal coaches or staff?
I remember that there were always opportunities to volunteer and help out in the community, whether it was working an event or volunteering at a soup kitchen. I love giving back. My life may not be perfect, but volunteering always reminded me that it could be worse and to be grateful for what I had.
What do you do for fun?
I’ve always been a bit of a nerd. Even when all of the cool kids were sneaking out of the children’s shelter, I would rather play frisbee golf. Today, my daughter and I are big gamers. We love playing video games together, and we get pretty competitive! I’ve also recently enjoyed cooking, with the help of HelloFresh meals!
What is your favorite quote?
The quote that always resonates with me is, "Your Focus Determines Your Reality." That means to think about what you want, focus on it, and make it happen. It might not always happen perfectly and there will definitely be speedbumps, but you can get there if you put your mind to it.
If you could pick a superpower, what would it be?
I think a lot of foster youth would pick flight or invisibility because of the desire to run away from your problems or not be seen. If I could have any superpower, I would want the ability to speak every language known to mankind.