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Last updated: 2010
Giovanni Soto, the firstborn in his family, grew up caring for both his younger sister and his mother. With his father out of the picture and his mother suffering from a disability, he took on immense responsibility at a young age. At eight, Gio’s mother married and Gio thought to himself, “Finally, I have a dad!” Tragically, fighting dominated the marriage and Gio’s stepfather abused him. Children’s Services removed Gio from his home; his stepfather was arrested but never convicted. Gio fell into a deep depression.
By 8th grade Gio realized that only he could turn things around by adopting a positive attitude and working for a better future. He dedicated himself to school and has never looked back. “The life that I was born into is not the life I want to live. I am one of those kids who has a long story to tell, one who has had numerous obstacles but has withstood and preserved against all odds,” Gio explains.
Gio has taken multiple Advanced Placement and honors classes and still maintains a 3.5 GPA. He is involved with church leadership, Career and Academic Preparation Academy, Key Club, Social Justice Academy Council, Hearts of Champions, and Jeopardy Boxing Gyms. Gio has been trained as a Peer College Counselor and works in the College Center daily, helping other students. Recently, Gio’s family faced eviction from their housing project and Gio found a job to help pay the rent. He has worked up to 30 hours a week while still attending high school full-time.
Gio remains focused on his goal of creating a better life by acquiring a good education and career—one that will likely include improving the lives of others through law, public policy, or government. “Failure is not an option for me,” declares Gio. Giovanni Soto’s hard work, positive attitude and desire to give back to others make him an excellent 2010 Beat the Odds Award recipient.
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