Last week, former Longhorns quarterback Vince Young visited Pathways 3H Youth Ranch to help a group of disadvantaged young men find their path to college. Joined by his friend and former Longhorns offensive guard Kasey Studdard, Young shared some of his experiences growing up in a troubled family environment and gave some words of wisdom on how to break out of the vicious cycle of poverty and crime.
“Nobody’s perfect and everyone makes mistakes in life,” says Young, who is a development officer in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at UT Austin. “Don’t let those mistakes define who you are as a young man. No matter what’s going on right now in your life, just know that you can change.”
At Pathways 3H Youth Ranch, a University of Texas-University Charter School that serves adolescent boys who are under the care of Child Protective Services, this important message is taught in therapy sessions, classroom discussions, wilderness training and various other activities.
When asked how he got through hard times as a teen, Young stressed the importance of a good mentor.
“Life hasn’t always been easy,” Young said. “It’s been tough and will always be tough. You need to find a mentor who can help you through hard times. I want you guys to open up, ask questions and don’t hold all that pain inside.”
When Studdard asked the group about their career goals, hands waived in the air and the room lit up with excitement as the boys shared their dreams of becoming doctors, lawyers, graphic designers, accountants and professional football players.
If the students could take away anything from his visit, Young hopes they will remember that they can always make a change. Who knows? They might even be a celebrated guest speaker delivering a motivational talk to a similar group of students one day.
“Stop thinking about what’s happing in the present moment and think about who you want to be decades from now,” said Young, who earned his bachelor’s degree from UT Austin in 2013. “I want you all to know that you can change. You can change your current environment by getting an education and making a new life for yourselves. “
Located in Mountain Home near Kerrville, the Pathways 3H Youth Ranch hosts the on-site University of Texas-University Charter School. For more information, visit this website.