Zachary Byrge

Last updated: 2014

Zachary Byrge

2014 Beat the Odds Honoree

Zachary is hip to the normality placed upon young African American males in our society from statistics. Zachary states, “That since my mother is a single parent raising a young black male in a low income area, I am not supposed to amount to anything.” A product of Watts, California, a poverty stricken subsection of South Los Angeles, famous for riots, gang violence, and overt drug use, Zachary finds himself on the path to beating the odds in school and around his community on daily basis.

In June, 2012 his mother suffered from a triple stroke and a heart attack simultaneously. “God was about to take the person I love the most in the world away from me, and I wasn’t’ sure of what would happen next,” Zachary reflects. Promises to momma, to never stop chasing his dreams, and to one day become a doctor is what he assured her, Zachary Byrge, M.D. is what you will see.

Life was always a little rough for Zachary growing up. His mother worked two jobs to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. At one point in his life, his mother lost both jobs, leaving his family homeless. Family member to family member’s home, they would house-hop, not truly grasping if this would be their final destination. A 1975 Suzuki was all his mother had to her name, and sometimes it was the name of home. Mother and family eventually overcame and found some sort of stability. For a period of time mom managed to keep the bills paid, keep Zachary in private school, and help his sister with her educational endeavors until a financial strain again came upon them. The family became jobless, his sister had to drop out of school and he had to quite football and they both got summer jobs to help make ends meet.

Motivation is key. While Zachary and his family still rely on government assistance to stay afloat, his family’s spirit never changed in pursuing the end goal. With Zachary’s mother and sister by his side as his biggest fan, he was able to recognize how vital his academic achievements were necessary to his future. Zachary maintains his focus by surrounding himself with like-minded people, balancing school life as a three sport athlete and being a role model to younger children facing hardships as he did.