Original Link : https://medium.com/@physevangertis/transformation-163d5d1012f8

I want some kid who is struggling out there to read this. If someone has ever told you can’t do something this story is for you. If you have ever told someone they can’t do something then this story is for you.

I failed High School Spanish. I was told time and time again that I would never amount to anything. I was the kid who never had his homework done. I was told by almost every authoritative figure with the exception of my parents that I was never going to amount to anything.

Does this sound familiar to you? Are you in an even worse predicament? Then you have the advantage. Thanks to those doubters they just provided you with your underdog story.

You don’t know it yet, but you will prove them wrong. I didn’t know it. I believed them. I wrote myself off and I told myself I couldn’t do it because I was looking at myself through the opinions of other people. I was just a kid and I really believed everything these adults were telling me.

Then something changed inside of me. I just jumped. I stopped caring about what other people thought. It was immensely freeing. I even became less judgmental. I graduated High School and got the hell out of my small town.

I went to Argentina as an exchange student with Rotary International. This was hands down the single most important turning point in my life. I grew in ways that I never thought I could. I became more mature, I developed a sense of appreciation for the world, I met new people, and yes, despite my what my High School Spanish teacher said, I became fluent Spanish. It wasn’t easy. I cried sometimes because I just wanted to see my family. I had some tough times every now and then, but overall I grew into a new person.

When I came home after exchange I was a new person. Travelling to Argentina was such a transforming experience for me that I wanted to do it again. So, I enrolled in a local community college and began working three part-time jobs to save up enough money to go abroad again. The travel programs through the school weren’t really great. I ended up researching volunteering positions in Central and South America because I felt like if I was going to travel I might as well do something for other people.

I ended up finding a really awesome program called Teach English Volunteer, Ecuador. I applied and was offered a three month position. It was hard to tell my family that I would be leaving again, but they understood. My mother was really concerned about school, but I knew that this experience would actually help me do better in school.

When I got to Ecuador I couldn’t believe that I was actually there. Everything was so different. When I got off the plane and ascended down the tamarack to the terminal I was actually very scared. I thought I had made the biggest mistake of my life. My first day in Ecuador my computer broke, my bank card stopped working, I didn’t have a phone, and I was completely on my own. However, I ended up figuring it all out! That’s what life is all about. You have to take the bad with the good. Living in Ecuador was filled with good and bad times, but guess what? I only remember the good times now.

Living in Ecuador helped me develop a serious appreciation for nature. As crazy as it sounds walking around in the jungle made me want to study science, but how was I going to do that? I couldn’t even pass remedial math in High School.

It was impossible to stop wondering what it would be like to study science. I didn’t want to just study any field of science. I became drawn to physics. It’s funny, I am not kidding when I say this, but I seriously didn’t know what physics even meant until I was 19 years old. So, despite the advice of my 9th grade science teacher I embarked on a new journey to get my degree in physics.

I came home from Ecuador and I enrolled in remedial math. I had to basically learn everything from High School Algebra to Linear Algebra. It was very hard. I miraculously achieved straight A’s. I got a two year degree from my local community college and went onto get my B.S. at UNC, Chapel Hill.

I soon realized that transferring to UNC was a big change. My classes were probably twenty times harder than they were before. This was the breaking point for me. I almost gave up several times, but I pushed through. I had to finish my degree in two years. Which meant 18–20 hours of upper level physics and math a semester. My advisor said I wouldn’t be able to finish a B.S., but I did anyways. I had amazing support from a few special professors. I also had some very very very bad professors, but it was worth every minute.

While I was at UNC I met my wonderful girlfriend of two years now, made some good friends, and yes, I got my physics degree.I landed an awesome job with a defense contractor straight out of college. Then I moved to Georgia where I now work as remote software developer. This journey has been great so far. Now I am working towards getting my masters in Computer Science and becoming a certified Computer Engineer.

I really hope this story encourages someone not to give up. Life is going to throw all kinds of curve balls at you, but you just got to focus on one thing. Your dreams have not happened “yet”. Keep that word in mind. Post it on your mirror. Make it into a tee-shirt. Write it on a wall. Just remember it has not happened YET. Now you just have to get to work and make it happen.