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Paving the way for great things Angel sets his sights on a bright future.

Beyond being excited about graduation, like any other young man his age, this senior at the Boys Ranch in Live Oak is paving the way for amazing things in his future. It is hard not to be just as excited about that as he is.

Not only will Angel be graduating from high school in May — a few short weeks after he walks the stage and collects his high school diploma, he will be taking a written exam and performing a skills assessment to obtain his certification as a nursing assistant. For Angel, earning his Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) status is just the first step to reaching his dreams of being a sports medicine doctor.

Angel’s past could not have been more different from the future he has before him. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, he divided his time between his mother and father. He would spend time in Puerto Rico with his mother and then come to Florida to be with his father. After his mother passed away, Angel came to live permanently in Florida and trouble began to brew. When he was in the ninth grade, this came to its boiling point and resulted in a conversation with a judge. This compassionate man directed Angel's family to the Boys Ranch.

When you speak to Angel now, it’s hard to believe he was ever anything other than an intelligent, respectful and charismatic teenager, but he credits much of that to what he learned at the Boys Ranch. “It’s hard to explain,” Angel said, “but the Boys Ranch has taught me to be an overall better person. Every part of me, everything they do, adds up. Every piece of it goes into making me better. From teaching me how to be respectful and earn respect from others to teaching me about time management, I’m a better person because of it.”

After three and a half years at the Boys Ranch, Angel is preparing for a new journey. He excitedly shared that he had just received confirmation that he had been accepted into the Youth Ranches Scholarship Program, which will help him pay for college and living expenses after he leaves the Ranch.

The scholarship program is not a free ride for our youth. Angel is ready to take the next step in learning to juggle the real world challenges of maintaining his grades while working and becoming a productive adult. “In the fall, I will be starting at Santa Fe College and from there, I will transfer to the University of Florida,” he said.

Angel, who played football for the Suwannee County Bulldogs, hopes to one day work for a large sports organization. His dream is an opportunity to work with the NFL or Major League Baseball, combining his love of sports and the medical field.

Angel is off to a great start! In preparation for his CNA license, he has learned a lot about nutrition, taking vital signs, patient care and administering medications. This background has provided him with a wealth of knowledge and a solid foundation to continue his education in medicine. Angel will gladly tell you that he owes it all to the Youth Ranches, “It is home.”