Ricky is a genuine Dallas Metro success story. The handsome, extremely polite 22 year old overcame an incredibly rough childhood to excel in his ongoing educational journey.

“I’m a student at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls. I’m starting my second year at Midwestern, after going to Trinity Valley Community College in Athens. At both schools I studied music education. After one more year at Midwestern I’ll have my certificate to teach and I will be coming back to Dallas to teach for a while. Then I’ll get my Master’s at the University of Houston.”

Ricky’s lofty academic achievements and career goals seemed like a completely unreachable reality when he was a young boy.

“Metro has been with me pretty much my whole life,” he explains. “I’m the youngest of two brothers and two sisters. My oldest brother got a knock on the door back in 1993 from Dallas Metro. From him, my other brother and two sisters became involved in Metro. Then it trickled down to me. So, when I was six, I started coming to the Metro programs in North Dallas.

“I had a very troublesome childhood. Where my family lived there was violence and drugs all around. There were times where I would go outside and I’d see the chalk lines outlining where dead bodies had been. The drug addicts would hang out at the corners. It was not a safe place to live.”

Ricky played football in middle school, and for extra credit he joined the band. Then in high school he was hit by a car. With his football playing nixed, he poured himself into band and a love of music really clicked in him. Now he wants to do everything he can as a band teacher to show students in difficult environments that being a part of a band is a positive move to counter their neighborhood life. He’s putting the lessons of his tough childhood to good use—he’s letting kids who are now in that same kind of neighborhood environment he was in know that they can make it out of the situation.

“Because of the way I grew up and the way I faced the difficult problems all around me, I feel like coming back to Metro as an adult volunteer was something I absolutely had to do—and something I absolutely wanted to do. It’s a way of giving back. 

“We just had our Metro Kidz Summer Camp and I had West Dallas kids in my cabin to watch over. In being with them I kind of saw a little bit of myself in what they’re going through. So, it was great to have those West Dallas kids with me this summer.”

Ricky pauses, collecting his thoughts.

“What I went through back when I was a kid is what they are going through right now. Being there for them and letting them know that they don’t have to settle for that life was important to me. I wanted them to know that they can achieve something greater than what their neighborhood is giving them.”