Beyond Emancipation

Taiwan: Transforming Struggle into Success

This year, eighteen-year-old Taiwan graduated high school with honors. He also earned a full-ride college scholarship and just started his first semester at San Jose State University!

Along with his many accomplishments, Taiwan has overcome significant challenges and struggles in his young life. Growing up in Oakland among gangs, drugs, and violence, Taiwan also dealt with abuse and neglect at home. His mother was addicted to drugs, and the family struggled with poverty.

In his younger years, Taiwan acted out and got in trouble at school. Five years ago, he ended up in the foster care system. He lived in a group home for two years and had a turning point his freshman year of high school.

“I moved in with my basketball coach and mentor Calvin,” Taiwan shares. “I also got into church and started to mature and care for others.”

Taiwan’s caring for others is clear to his peers, teachers, and everyone he meets.

At the age of 12, Taiwan was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the heart, lungs, and muscular structures of the body. Taiwan has been hospitalized over 40 times and has endured eight surgeries.

In the face of these challenges, Taiwan has turned his struggle into strength. “It is what compels and motivates me to achieve greater things,” says Taiwan. “I want to help people with the same challenges and struggles.”

In pursuit of helping others, Taiwan is studying biology right now. He then plans to go to medical school on his journey to becoming a cardiothoracic surgeon.

Having been homeless before, Taiwan also has a lot of compassion for those facing homelessness. “I want to support the homeless community in finding and maintaining stability,” says Taiwan. “I want to use my resources to help people who are less fortunate and don’t have support.”

During his struggles, Taiwan found the support he needed with B:E and his coaches. “B:E has played a big role in my life – helping me with everything from proofreading my essays to getting housing,” says Taiwan.

“B:E feels like a family,” shares Taiwan, who has received help with basic necessities and his long-term goals. “B:E encourages youth to take a step forward.” We are excited to support Taiwan in his journey and can’t wait to see the small and huge steps forward he takes.