Enrique Sepulveda has been named an Achieving the Dream Scholar. Formerly Homeless Student Now a Star Scholar To say that Miami Dade College student Enrique Sepulveda III has overcome a lot of adversity would be a gross understatement. Sepulveda, who is focusing his MDC studies on political science while serving as vice president of Wolfson Campus’ Student Government Association, was recently named an Achieving the Dream Scholar. But it was just one year ago – in the spring of 2016 – when he was secretly living in an abandoned house that had been in foreclosure. Today, the 22-year-old Sepulveda has found safe shelter through Camillus House, a nonprofit that helps the poor and homeless. Sepulveda was born into an unstable home. His father went to federal prison, and Sepulveda was 13 before he even met him. His mother was only 18 when he was born. “Because my mother had me when she was so young, she still wanted to live her life to the fullest by going out clubbing until late at night,” Sepulveda said. “I cried when my mother neglected me while under the influence. I had no positive role models. I grew up not knowing anything except poverty and struggle.” The one good thing Sepulveda could count on was school. He loved learning but admits he would sometimes seek out trouble just to be surrounded by his friends in detention. That pattern continued until he was robbed at gunpoint during his junior year of high school. His front tooth was shot out by a BB gun. “That scared me to death,” said Sepulveda. “It was a reality check. I saw that I was following in my father’s footsteps.” Things got worse for Sepulveda during his senior year, when he and his younger sister became homeless. That’s when they took shelter in the abandoned house. “It was not the cleanest of places,” Sepulveda said, “but we were determined to finish school.” Sepulveda ultimately graduated from Miami Palmetto High and enrolled at MDC. He found out about a nonprofit group called “Educate Tomorrow,” which helps 15- to 23-year olds who are aging out of the foster-care system by providing them with mentors. “During my first appointment with Educate Tomorrow, a man walked in to deliver a message to the counselor who was interviewing me,” Sepulveda said. “I had no clue who he was, but I stood up to shake his hand and assert my commitment to turn my life around. “It turns out it was Jaime Anzalotta, dean of students at Wolfson Campus. He handed me his business card, and from that one interaction, opportunity began to change my life.” Anzalotta helped Sepulveda find safe shelter at Camillus House. And now Sepulveda has made it his goal to be a community leader. “I never thought I would be in college, but here I am,” Sepulveda said. “Who knows what I can accomplish next.” To hear more of Sepulveda’s inspiring story, see tinyurl.com/SepulvedaMDC.
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