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Meet Marcus

Published on: March 23, 2016

For Marcus, waking up in the morning can be a battle. At times, he has to resist the urge to give up. And then there's the biggest challenge of all: not believing in himself. But Marcus is determined to succeed, determined to defy the odds, and determined to be a role model. He has younger brothers to inspire, a mother to make proud, and a plan that could take him all over the world.  For Marcus, quitting is not an option.


A junior at NC A&T Middle College, Marcus is mature beyond his 16 years. He views himself as a role model for his brothers, and behaves as such, saying "yes ma'am" and "yes sir," and showing them, in little ways, that he cares. But he also wants to set a good example for how to lead a successful life—how to make good choices.


For Marcus, good choices are graduating from high school, going to a four-year college and eventually earning a master’s degree. He wants to be financially secure, so he can provide for his future wife and children. His plan for financial security is to become a business owner…

but not a small business owner. No, Marcus wants to take his business across the country and maybe even the world!

These are not naive ideas. Marcus understands the realities of running a business. His mother's business, like many small businesses, didn't make it. But Marcus saw what could be, and he is set on being a success. "I have to get where I want to go," he says.


His determination and drive to succeed haven't always been so strong. He used to be afraid to speak in public. He didn't aim high because he wasn't sure he could get there. SHIELD has provided Marcus with a safe space, free from the fears of bullying and peer pressure. SHIELD is a place where he can express himself, understand his potential, and plan for his future. The program has taught him not to be afraid, and to aim high because the only thing that is stopping him is self-doubt.

This year Marcus ran for class president. He admits he was nervous when he gave his speech. It took him a minute to get his words out, but he did. Marcus didn’t win, but he considers his campaign a learning experience. Will he run again? "Yes," he says, “never quit. Never"

Meet Denisea

Published on: December 28, 2015

Denisea is the kind of person who brings life and energy to a roomShe wants you to feel welcome when she is around. And she almost never stops smiling.But she wasn't always like this. Denisea will be the first to tell you that a few years ago, she was a loner.  She was quiet. She didn't talk to people. Didn't even want their company. But now?  

"Now?...Huh! I'm nothing like that. I talk to everybody!" she says.

Denisea credits her incredible transformation to two years in the SHIELD Mentor Program. She has learned how to speak in public, how to set and achieve goals, and even how to manage her money

At just 14, Denisea has a plan for her future. She wants to become an interior designer or a photographer. At SHIELD, she's learning about how to make her dream job a reality. Getting accepted into GTCC's Middle College was the first step in reaching her goal. Denisea knew  this school would be the right fit for her. The smaller class sizes meant there would be less distractions and she would get the attention she needed. But getting in wasn't easy. Her mentors at SHIELD helped her understand the application requirements, prepared her for the interview, and most importantly, they motivated her when she was ready to give up. Now as a Freshman at GTCC's Middle College, she wants to stay on for the 5th year and graduate with an Associate's degree. Because of her focus and determination, Denisea has already started college level classes.  


"I don't think I would be at the school I'm at now if it wasn't for SHIELD. When I was down on myself..[my mentors told me] "you can do it!" They helped me understand [that] this is what I wanted, this will help me in my life and have a better future" 


But she wants to do more. Denisea wants to inspire her younger sister and cousins to succeed. She's also passionate about the issue of homelessness in Guilford County. She wants to continue developing her leadership skills so she can be a part of the solution.   


Denisea knows there are many more steps on her path to success. And that there are lots of obstacles that could get in her way. With a SHIELD mentor by her side, Denisea won't be alone. "If I ever feel like I want to give up on my dream, I'm going to go to one of my mentors so they can put me back on that path - you shouldn't give up."


Published on: November 17, 2015

Stay tuned! The #SHIELDyouth category will feature stories about our youth participating in the mentoring program.   Find out what they are doing, how they are reaching their goals and how our curriculum benefits them in their personal lives.  We plan to highlight  noteworthy stories.