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February 8, 2024

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
The Journey of MAN UP
Alumnus Edward M.

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By:  Jatika Hudson

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At age 16, while attending Jones High School Edward began working at his local Walgreens. One day he struck up a conversation with the pharmacy technician about the anime jacket he was wearing. Little did he know that chat would play a major role in the next few years of his life. During that conversation, the technician suggested to Edward that he should apply for a job in the pharmacy. Shortly after graduating from high school, Edward began preparing for the examination and today he is your local Walgreens pharmacy technician.

 

 

Let’s start from the beginning, moving to Orlando was a fresh start for Edward and his family. New to the neighborhood his newfound friend and classmate kept harassing him about attending MAN UP mentoring sessions on Thursday nights. After his initial visit, he became a committed mentee attending the weekly mentoring sessions. Eventually becoming the organization’s youth leader and even a junior board member.

 

 

 “Thankfully I was introduced to MAN UP, they showed me the best of who I was and what I could do, by providing a safe space, a loving and supportive family environment, stability, and endless opportunities. Especially helping us with tutoring and teaching us how to apply for college the right way.”

 

During his nearly three years as a mentee, he recalls the fun and excitement from participating in the weekly mentoring sessions, the field trips, and the many life lessons learned. One of his fondest memories is being introduced to the Southeast Region’s PeaceJam Slam Youth Conference held at Florida State University. According to Edward, over the two-day weekend, youth have the opportunity to participate in vulnerable group discussions, share their stories over a candlelight ceremony, and gain lifelong friendships.

 

 

In 2020, Edward graduated from Jones High School and plans to attend college later this year. He’s inspired to keep going by a group of young people that hits closer to home. “I want to be a good role model for my younger brothers you know,” he says. “It is critical for them to see me be a positive example and know they can be better than their surroundings.” He wants to lead by example.

 

 

Edward and countless other youth are the beneficiaries of the parental examples provided by brother-sister team and MAN UP Co-founders, Christopher and Samantha Wallace. They along with their mentors exude compassion, offer a listening ear and doses of tough love.

 

“Kids nowadays, might not have positive examples of father or mother figures in their lives so it means a lot to have somebody that will not only offer sound advice, but someone that has expectations of them, but will also line them up and correct them when necessary,” Edward went on to say, in his mind he can often hear them saying, “hey, is this the right thing to do; is there a better way to handle this, and did you do your best?’”

 

“We’re in a society today where a lot of kids are being more violent and there's a lot more violence in the world and God put us on this earth to do good things. So if MAN UP can contribute more to society, by making it a better place, I know it’s not entirely going to fix all the issues of our communities but hopefully, programs like MAN UP can help encourage one young person at a time to see the best in themselves like they did for me,” Edward shared.

 

 

To learn more about the Pharmacy Technician Job Shadow Program for High School Students, visit here.     

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