For Christian Soto, a twelfth grade student at Lorenzo Vizcarrondo School, being selected as Youth of the Year for our Carolina Club carries a big responsibility on how to impact others with his message. “Growing up in a dysfunctional home, surrounded by violence made me an isolated and sad child. However, thanks to the support of Boys & Girls Club in Carolina, their staff and the educational programs I was immersed in, I have been able to deal and manage my childhood traumas. Today, I want to share my experience with younger people and show them that there are solutions and alternatives that help get out of depression, loneliness and isolation,” he shares.
At the Club, Christian learned to manage and conquer insecurities caused by his speech disorder. He was also able to identify his passion for videogame programming, science and technology. “I want to study video game programming to inspire and educate people through them. I understand there is a stigma against video games, but I think that through them you can positively impact other people. For example, what I’ve learned by playing Undertale, which teaches the player how to solve conflicts through dialogue instead of violence.”
As part of his leadership and commitment to others, Christian, who is passionate about arts, music, mathematics and science is volunteering at the Club helping others by providing homework support, as well as developing learning experiences that develop mental health and emotional intelligence
What obstacle or challenge have you experienced?
“I have gone through different traumatic experiences that marked my story, selfconcept and identity such as depression, bullying and gender violence.
It all started when I was four, when my mother – due to abuse from my father– decided to leave the house and seek shelter at Casa de Julia de Burgos for a year. I thought that when we left home, the violence and abuse would be over. Yet this was not the case.
In sixth grade, family situations got worse and my mother became an abusive person, she was verbally and physically aggressive towards my sister and I. On the other hand, at school, my classmates made fun of my speech impediment and my studious nature; they called me the nerd of the class.
In addition, the academic pressures and commitments from the Specialized School of Mathematics were affecting my emotional health. In seventh grade I met who would be my partner for three years. I fell in love at first sight, she was my first love. At the beginning she was a sweet and adorable girl. Over time she became an obsessive, manipulative, aggressive and jealous person. With these experiences feelings of loneliness and depression came about. Today I am overcoming these obstacles with self-help, psychological therapy and attending Club programs.”
What characteristics should a leader have?
“A leader is a person who guides a team or group to reach their full potential. He must be a person with a good heart, a thinker, have an incorruptible moral and the best interest for his team to succeed.”