#becauseofCJ: Reflection from Antonio '16

Young alumni are sharing how they are succeeding after high school in our #becauseofCJ series. Through your gift to the Annual Fund, you make this happen. Read Antonio’s story and make your gift to this year’s Annual Fund before Sunday, June 30. When you do, more Eagles can soar!

Dear CJ Community,

If you had told me that one day I’d be a SOCHE Intern, working with the awesome leaders and media professionals from Montgomery County Development Services, I would have said you were crazy.  As I sit back and reflect on my journey, I’m humbled and reminded that, “In God, all things are possible.” 

As I reflect on my student experience at CJ, I can humbly say my experience was life enhancing. As a graduate of the class of 2016, I remember walking across that stage hopeful and committed to becoming my best self. My four years at CJ were filled with success and with challenges. When I would stumble, the amazing faculty was always there holding me accountable, but encouraging me to be the best person I could be. I would quickly learn that in life when you stumble, try to fall forward.

When you’re a freshman in high school, you’re not quite sure what your best self looks like. I wanted to be me, but I also wanted to fit in.  CJ provided a nurturing and diverse environment that allowed me to discover how to fit in, while maintaining my diverse perspective. CJ encouraged me to be a “joiner” by offering a variety of activities to suit my interests.  As an aspiring communications professional, I quickly joined the Newsletter Committee. I also pursued another passion – basketball.  Of all the activities I was involved with, my toughest character lessons came from my four years on the basketball team. I learned about teamwork, perseverance and that being a team player was important to the overall success of the team. Sure, there were times that I wanted to quit, but I knew my parents had taught me and my sister that we didn’t have quitter DNA.

Once I realized that high school was not a dress rehearsal, but my real-life unfolding before me, I began to dig in. My counselor cared about my success and assured me there was life after basketball. Together we developed a study plan that required me to focus on small wins. As my grades began to soar, so did my confidence. CJ faculty challenged me to focus on enjoying the student experience. To do this required personal sacrifices. Sure, I could have stayed up all night playing video games and be in a fog the next day, but the test scores wouldn’t lie if you didn’t balance that with good study habits. CJ reinforced good values, personal discipline and a good work ethic — the same message that teens don’t always accept when it comes from their parents. CJ partnered with my parents, providing them with consistent feedback and assuring them that if I would trust their methodologies I would become a successful student. On graduation day, when I received the President’s Award, I understood that hard work has its rewards.

As I matured, I began to develop a strong sense of who I was becoming, recognizing life is a continuous journey and not a hard stop. I began to understand that being a “joiner” still required discernment. I wanted to be around people who loved God and who wanted to experience campus life to the fullest. 

On a college campus, your worldview can be challenged by those who have misguided faith as well as by zealots who use God to spew hate and division. A college campus is no place to try to find yourself. You need to have a strong sense of who you are and what you believe before you arrive. CJ taught me to be an advocate of my faith but to also show grace to those who don’t share your beliefs. Being bold would become essential as my belief systems would be regularly challenged.

I can remember the day I told my parents that I had volunteered to be the worship leader for my dorm. They were proud and it eased their minds to know that I was figuring things out about my life, making friends and seeking diverse experiences beyond basketball. I would soon join other interest groups and learn to effectively communicate with people who were very different than me. Soon, I would meet amazing friends, who would become part of an ongoing pact to graduate on time. This brotherhood was very similar to what I experienced at CJ  — common goals and great friends, focused on crossing the finish line together.

As I prepare to enter my senior year at Bowling Green State University I feel grateful and have so much optimism. I appreciate everything that CJ did for me and what they continue to do for others just like me. My life is in my hands now as I march into the future with promise and hope.

Thank you CJ community for everything — you won’t regret your investment!

Antonio Mobley, Class of 2016

Posted June 25, 2019