College was something Eli had never considered. He dropped out of high school twice before his junior year, and with financial struggles at home, he said school just didn’t seem important.
In August 2018, Eli’s mother said she found a place that would be good for him. She sent him to Methodist Children’s Home, and Eli found the structure he needed.
Eli enrolled in the MCH charter school on the Waco campus operated in partnership with The University of Texas – University Charter School system, where he discovered a new outlook on education.
“I enjoy going to school here,” Eli said, adding that he is able to get his work done and the school days seem to go by fast.
Eli has caught up academically and is finding success in school. He also found a personal outlet through school athletics, playing basketball and golf.
“Sports help me take my mind off things,” he said. “It is a stress reliever for me. I didn’t really like to socialize much so athletics was a way I could express myself and get stuff off my chest.”
Eli said he was nervous about coming to MCH, but built relationships with staff and other youth who helped him feel comfortable.
“Being here taught me to open up and showed me that I can actually trust people,” he said.
Staff member Morgan Lyons helped Eli transition to MCH and has seen the positive change in him.
“Eli was an absolute joy to have in the house,” said Lyons, who previously served as Eli’s home life manager. “He is a young man who has a genuine curiosity about the world and he enjoys asking questions to increase his knowledge about things and people around him.”
Eli’s vision for his future began to transform after coming to MCH. He always enjoyed building model cars and buildings, and began to take an interest in engineering. Lyons noticed his interest and took him to Baylor University, where they visited engineering classrooms, talked with professors and saw students working on robots.
“It was so fun seeing his eyes opened up to a world that could exist for him after high school,” Lyons said. “I believe seeing a college campus lit a fire in him and for the first time he felt like college could be something he could reach.”
They also visited Lyons’ former college professor at Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary who now runs the Faith and Sports Institute Retreat, a weeklong camp for high school athletes focused on building character and integrity and becoming stronger spiritual leaders. She was impressed with Eli and encouraged him to apply for the retreat. Several weeks later, Lyons and Eli received an email stating he received a full scholarship. Eli attended the camp in July.
“I was able to be free, emotionally and spiritually, because everyone was on the same page,” Eli said about the retreat. “It was a positive environment.”
Eli plans to return to the retreat as a junior mentor next summer. He also now has big plans for his future, and knows he has support.
“There are people around me who are willing to help and will do the best they can to help me get there,” Eli said. “That makes me happy.”