From the Streets to a Suit and Tie at Harvard Business School

“It’s really hard doing it the right way, but it feels so much better. Dealing drugs never felt this way. My lost friends have taught me that life is short. I have to do better, because I can, and because I am here. Thanks to Year Up, I am doing just that.” ~ Kiomar Alives



Growing up with his mom and sister in Roxbury, Massachusetts, Kiomar Aviles loved his mother’s special creation: white rice, hot dogs and ketchup. Unfortunately, even though his mom worked two jobs, hot dogs and ketchup were often too expensive for this small family.

Kiomar’s mom always urged him to, “Know who your real friends are and stay off the streets.” But at just fourteen years old, Kiomar was out on the streets selling weed.

Kiomar had chosen a gang life over high school. He had chosen a life where his friends told him that if he was hungry, he should take it, and that if he did not like the rules, he did not have to follow them. Surrounded by death, Kiomar chose to numb himself with marijuana and alcohol.

And yet, in just one year Kiomar went from working at Au Bon Pain to working in IT at Harvard Business School and studying computer science at Harvard Extension School.

One year from doing things the wrong way to doing things the right way.

So how did Kiomar become one of the men he would always see wearing an expensive suit, buying lunch at Au Bon Pain? Listen to him share his story below, about how one organization called Year Up helped him drop his old habits in exchange for the pathway to a hopeful future and a successful career.



The GradsofLifeVoice Forbes team provides thought leadership, research and expert commentary on innovative talent pipelines and related issues such as the skills gap, income inequality, workforce diversity, and the business case for employment pathways. We seek to change employers’ perceptions of young adults with atypical resumes from social liabilities to economic assets. This post was originally featured here


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