Juan Alarcon was once homeless, getting by with next to nothing and couch surfing while also attending school.
Now, he’s looking to help others who are struggling.
Working 40-50 hours per week and attending school, Alarcon received his high school diploma and an associate’s degree from Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley through a dual credit program.
Looking back, Alarcon shared how hard it was to get by.
“No one should ever have to live penny-to-penny,” he said. “I was 16 and looking for places for couch surfing and eventually trying to find a permanent place to live and pay rent.”
Alarcon didn’t find himself going through this situation alone. Some of his friends and peers in his college program also were homeless.
Indeed, homeless youth are a growing segment in the Kansas City area. There are several reasons why. They include living in a single-parent household, family problems and awaiting placement in foster care.
In a recent report published by the Homelessness Task Force of Greater Kansas City, there were nearly 7,500 area children who were homeless during the 2011-12 K-12 school year.
Alarcon’s hard work is paying off. Recently, he received the keys to his own place – and a full-ride scholarship to the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Alarcon plans to pursue a degree in secondary education and become a teacher with Kansas City (Mo.) Public Schools.
He also hopes he can help students going through homelessness.
“I hope to be a role model … and out of my own pocket, feed kids that haven’t been fed,” Alarcon said. “If a student (comes to class hungry), I’d like to be able to provide (food) for them, so that they don’t have to learn on an empty stomach.”