Xavier Jennings is a Program Specialist at Mile High Youth Corps YouthBuild (MHYC) in Denver, Colorado. At MHYC Xavier works with students and graduates to develop their leadership skills through trainings and ongoing support. His earnest and extensive knowledge of leadership development began during his own experience as a MHYC YouthBuild student.
At the age of 13, Xavier became involved in the street life and court system and left high school without a degree. He enrolled at MHYC and through the program earned his GED, Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, and in 2008 graduated from the program, awarded the Metropolitan Mayor’s and Commissioners Youth Award. With the support from his Segal AmeriCorps Education Award, Xavier enrolled in the Community College of Denver.
College is faster paced than GED studies. Also, a huge campus can be intimidating. It was difficult for me to find a comfort zone. I had to know where to get help if I was struggling in class, had to communicate with my teacher and had to deal with all the admissions and financial aid. I was fortunate enough to have extra help from YouthBuild staff with these struggles because I was still employed at YouthBuild while going to school.
Xavier’s goal is to earn a Master’s Degree in Education, to have the ability to improve the public school systems and start his own nonprofit for low-income youth. Xavier joined YouthBuild USA’s Postsecondary Education Advisory Council V.O.I.C.E.S. (View on Improving Credentials and Education Success) shortly after enrolling in college where he became first two-term President of the council.
His transformation, dedication to his community, and pursuit for higher education provided him the opportunity to meet President Barack Obama in 2011 and speak at the Aspen Ideas Festival in 2012. Xavier volunteers as a basketball and football coach with a local youth sports league and is a proud father of two.
What I want other young people to know about my experience is that there comes a time that you realize that the people you're fighting, stealing, and dealing drugs to are in the same struggle as you. I made it a point to give back to my community and others like mine through service which would make the world a better place.