Anthony is a believer of miracles and a passionate dreamer with unyielding resilience. As the oldest of five children who navigated poverty and coped with trauma that stemmed from growing up in a gang-and drug-infested neighborhood in Tacoma, he was motivated to achieve his dream of going to college because of a promise he made to his single mother.
“While we may have been broke in finance, my mom raised us to be rich in character,” he says. “She urged me to put education first. Before I had vision for myself, she had a vision for me.”
When he was in 5th grade, Anthony remembers walking home wearing a red sweatsuit in a gang neighborhood whose colors were blue. “I was sweating bullets, hoping I could just fade into the shrubbery. When I heard, ‘Yo, what gang you repping?’ I thought that was the beginning of a beat down,” Anthony says. “I turned around, stuck out my bird chest, and said what my mom had told me to say with all the confidence I had: ‘I’m in GOD’s gang.’” He braced for impact and waited, but thankfully they only looked back and laughed.
But other days ended in being out of breath from running, taking alternate routes home or hiding in an effort to save his own life. He survived his first drive-by shooting while getting off of the bus in 3rd grade. On another day, he stared at the bullet in a picture of his youngest brother wondering where else it could have hit as it streamed through the window of his house.
“The majority of us living in my neighborhood at that time felt hopeless and forgotten. No matter how many programs I participated in, once I left those safe spaces, I still had to navigate my way through a neighborhood that seemed to have no escape,” he says. “I remember working at McDonalds and being robbed for Happy Meals because people did not have food to eat. Days that should never be normalized in a child’s life became an everyday routine of survival.”
As part of his mother’s quest to give her children access to a better education, Anthony was bussed across town to better schools. “My siblings and I were in every program the city of Tacoma had to offer,” he says.
By the time he was a senior at Lincoln High School, he knew there had to be something bigger ahead and was ready to apply for college, but he didn’t know how he would afford it.
“Then College Success Foundation came in like a bulldozer of opportunity … At a time when I could have easily become one of those unseen and forgotten students, CSF worked to provide me with my way out,” he says.
“I remember it feeling like they were holding a metaphorical banner saying, ‘We see you, we value you and all that work has not been in vain.’”
After he became a member of the inaugural cohort of College Success Foundation’s Achievers program and graduated from Lincoln High School, Anthony went on to earn his bachelor’s degree at University of Washington. CSF continued to be pivotal in his journey by helping him make a difference in the community as an intern, part-time employee, and co-creator of CSF’s ninth- and tenth-grade HERO program. He was also appointed a student member of the Higher Education Coordinating Board in Olympia and a member of the CSF Alumni Board.
“I had opportunities to not only be invited to the table, but also to be empowered and encouraged to share my thoughts and be an advocate for change,” he says.
Anthony now works in the entertainment industry as a writer, director, producer, host, creative and diversity consultant, and founder of Black Rose Productions in Los Angeles, California.
“How has having a college degree changed and empowered my life? Through added self-worth and the confidence to walk into any room,” he says. “CSF gave me the foundation and confidence to dare to dream and discover my passion.”