Jason Hardwick’s story illustrates that the circumstances of your birth don’t necessarily determine your destiny.
Hardwick grew up in public housing where he was constantly exposed to violence and crime. Nevertheless, he loved school and got involved in all kinds of extracurricular activities. But things really took off when, with the encouragement of his mother, he enrolled in the Northeast Florida Community Action Agency’s Data Busters summer program.
The program helped him improve his computer literacy skills while he earned money. “[Data Busters] gave me the push to do well in college so the possibilities of my landing the kind of job I wanted would be greater,” Hardwick notes.
Hardwick’s determination to succeed inspired his mother, and the two attended college simultaneously. His mother graduated from Bethune Cookman College in 1996 with a degree in nursing; her son followed three years later with a BS degree in economics from Florida A&M.
Now a patient financial services manager, Hardwick has achieved his childhood goals without forgetting his roots. For the last three years, he has served as a mentor for at-risk youth, encouraging them to seize every opportunity to succeed.