“I didn’t plan on being a single mom, but you have to deal with the cards you are dealt the best way you can” (Tichina Arnold). I thought as a child raised in a home by all women and no fathers around it was normal, only to realize that when I became a mother, I was repeating a cycle of raising fatherless children. Growing up I was raised by my grandmother. My mother passed away when I was two years old. She was murdered. I knew my father, but not really and the memory I do have of him he was either high or drunk to the point where he couldn’t maintain his own balance. My father would later die by the time I was seven and the last memory I have of him was identifying his body at the hospital with my grandmother. I saw all women growing up in my family. My mother brothers where around but they were either on drugs or alcoholics and had children that they did not raise neither did they take care of the children they had, leaving the mothers of their own children to be single mothers. I…


“The only source of knowledge is experience...” - Albert Einstein

Have you ever questioned who you are? How did you end up here?  Are you who you thought you would be? As a newborn baby, we are a blank page in the book of life. Every action we take thereafter fills in the pages. We are carefully crafting each chapter. Authors of our own destiny. Even as a delicate infant our hopes and dreams seem endless. Our minds are untainted by experiences of anguish, hurt, and trauma. We radiate joy and light which draws others near. With endless possibilities, we press forward full speed ahead. What freedom we experience as infants, unbothered by the cares of the world. Determined to achieve success, reach higher heights than those that came before us. However, our forward motion is brought to a screeching halt as we are faced with a foreign experience called pain. Pain is, in my opinion, the greatest teacher. Our senses heighten, our minds race trying to interpret this unfamiliar experience. Our…


Just Us 4 Youth has been a phenomenal experience. Coming from a dysfunctional , gang related, addictive and abusive family has made it easy for me to relate with the youth that we deal with on a daily basis. The majority of our students that we assist come from low income family and are first generation students who would go to college. I personally had a third obstacle to deal with, being undocumented.
Growing up in the barrio I was surrounded by over 10 different gangs within a 3 mile radius. I lost a cousin and even some of my friends were getting sentenced to life in prison. I didn’t have much of an option but to overcome the statistics. The average low income latino/hispanic has a higher probability to get locked or lose their life instead of graduating from high school. Being the first person from my family to graduate high school made me want to pursue higher education. Not having that superman in my life made me decide to turn into one for all urban youth that deal with daily …


ALTERING PERSPECTIVES | IDEAS ON RISK, LEADERSHIP AND MENTORING  All great leaders take risks. There is something about living in the tension of complete and utter failure and reaching the pinnacle of success. Living in this tension invites leaders to make difficult decisions, accelerating their learning and expertise due to lessons learned in pressure filled environments. At times, the fear of failing can motivate leaders to accomplish great feats or lead them to demise. We’ve seen these truths in the lives of many leaders today. 
Naturally there are leaders who do not possess the courage to take risks, therefore they remain stagnant, paralyzed by the fear of “what if?” Think about the pastor who had dreams of leading a mega church, but is now relegated to preaching to a few congregants. He might have begun optimistically, but is now full of frustration due to his lack of “success.” Or the mom and pop store owners whose dreams of guiding a flourishing business have dissipated when “s…


My name is Jay Cummings. Only 20 minutes away at Azusa Pacific University, I have spent these past three years studying in complete ignorance of the pain and suffering that some of the urban youth in Pomona experience on an everyday basis.
Where I grew up, “coming from a broken home” simply meant that a kid’s parents had been divorced and they had it hard at home. Unfortunately, some of the students that come to JU4Y come from places like these. I distinctly remember driving away from internship one day where a student was left crying in the middle of the parking lot because she was so scared to go back to the place that was supposed to be called home. I don’t know that she has ever known what a home is truly meant to be like. Many of us have been raised to believe that home is a place where we can find refuge, rest, and relationship. Over the course of these past few months, I have come to realize what a luxury this really is. I remember sobbing in my car out of anger and frustratio…


Every day and on every campus we get to work with savant students. There is always one who dances to the beat of their own song. One who is moving to a rhythm that is foreign to the world around them. If you only look externally, you may miss the genius that is before you. You may become disillusioned by their lack of “proper social abilities” or “their apparent disinterest” in what you find to be important, but you must not blink or you’ll miss it, or not hear it, the sound of music that is playing.
The young urban mind cultivates genius amidst the trauma that it endures. Surviving the misfortunes of the inner city isn’t easy. To avoid collapse, young minds take dissonant sounds created by unspeakable traumas and they orchestrate exquisite symphonies for only them to hear. This sound of music brings peace to the fractured world they live in, and it calms their soul and protects their mind from catastrophe.
As mentors, it is our privilege and our challenge to listen and move to the youn…


The Art of Mentoring There are millions of blogs and articles out there on mentoring. With a simple google search thousands of pages will pop up and stare you in the face. Even after 18 years of mentoring experience, I still hit major roadblocks in my mentoring process with challenging students. I call these youth, “heavy hitters” because every effort from others to connect to them fails. Their lives have been full of trauma, abandonment, poverty and pain.
I am not a quitter, so over the years in times like these I get creative in my efforts, hoping to resource myself to find a way to breakthrough. Hearing their stories and circumstances may help you understand my predicament a bit more.
Male 18, gang affiliated, drug addicted I’ve been mentoring this young man for 2 years, but the process stalled. I seemed to be getting nowhere as he continued to “put in work” for his neighborhood bringing drugs, violence and destruction everywhere he went.
Female 16, gang affiliated, drug addicted, hom…