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Making a postive impact Alexis uses her career to give back.

From a young age, Alexis always knew that she wanted to be a teacher. It wasn’t until the Youth Ranches turned her life around that she understood why.

Alexis came to the Youth Ranch at Safety Harbor in 2010. Her mother had remarried and Alexis and her stepfather never saw eye to eye, which had caused a lot of family problems. The Youth Ranches seemed like her last resort, but what Alexis really found was the support to grow as a person and follow her dreams.

“Ever since I was younger, I’ve always sort of known that I wanted to be a teacher,” Alexis said of her blossoming career. “My time at the Youth Ranches helped me to solidify that decision.” She now teaches the fifth grade in central Florida and sees a lot of herself in her students. “I teach in an area with a lot of lower-income families and a lot of kids who don’t have the best lives at home,” Alexis said. “Being at the Youth Ranch taught me how important it is for children to have good role models. A lot of them don’t have good family support, so I’m their cheerleader. That’s the main reason I do what I do.”

Alexis confesses there were times at the Ranch when she didn’t understand the point or purpose of the skills and lessons being taught in the cottage. “As a teenager, I never understood why it was so important that we all had to gather together at night for daily skill lessons, or even the cottage parents asking each child in the cottage how their day was,” she said with a laugh. “I get it now. I can’t tell you how many times in my daily life as an adult I have used those lessons we were taught by Mom and Pop. I never realized how much that helped me develop my social skills and interactions, which are now a key part of my job.”

She is quick to add that it wasn’t only the support and skills she received from the Youth Ranches that shaped her life; she got the chance to follow her dreams and she hasn’t slowed down. “I was so fortunate to be a part of the Youth Ranches Scholarship Program. Without that, I doubt I would have even been able to go to college at all, let alone have so many options available to me.” Alexis received her bachelor’s degree from Florida Southern and is now planning to continue her education and pursue her master’s degree in educational leadership so one day, she will be able to work in school administration. “I want to make a difference,” Alexis said. “As my long-term goal, I see myself as vice principal of a school.”

For Alexis, above and beyond everything the Youth Ranches has given her and taught her, what it really gave her was a family. “The Youth Ranch, that’s my family,” she said with pride. “They are as much of a family as you can be without being related. When I get in a tough spot or just need someone to talk to, I know they are there. Still to this day, I have them to help guide me. I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today without the Youth Ranches.”