Gerson moved from El Salvador to California when he was seven years old. He went from a civil war to a gang war and living in the Los Angeles area during the 1980’s and 90’s. He eventually left California and moved to the east coast as he worked to escape the risk of becoming a statistic by his surroundings, including gangs, drugs, and violence.
After college in 2003, he began to get involved in youth mentorship as a response to the violence that continued to surround him. He began by organizing teen conferences, which he shaped into his own mentorship program. Gerson spends his time motivating at-risk youth to choose the life of college and career rather than gangs and prison. This program would give him a new story to share and a deeper credibility with the kids he aims to inspire.
He wants kids to see that the system is a for-profit that benefits from the school to prison pipeline, but he needs to be part of the solution. This experience will allow him to connect with the youth he serves on a new level. Sharing his childhood experience plus this story of incarceration may help prevent kids from going down the wrong path and ending up a statistic.