When Sergio Navas tries to tell stories of his past in class at Highlands no one believes him.
“I have to always promise them it’s true,” Sergio laughed. “I take it as a compliment though. My lifestyle is much different now than when I was a young punk.”
Once upon a time, Sergio led a life mixed up in trouble with the police, but now he is a devoutly religious father of three.
When Sergio looks back on his transition into this new lifestyle, he remembers feeling like he owed it to himself and to his parents.
“I just wanted to do right, you know. I had done so much wrong that I just wanted to do right,” he said. “I just remember the look on my parents’ faces when they would see me. I mean you could just see their disappointment in me, and that got me. That cut me right to the heart.”
Although Sergio didn’t have a perfect relationship with his parents, he said he respects the values they taught him growing up.
“They instilled in me that you work; that hard work pays off,” Sergio said. “And I really believe that with all of my heart.”
This is why Sergio registered for the military at the age of 17 after the final straw broke the camel’s back on his troublesome youth.
This is also why Sergio pursued career technical education in computer networking once he returned home from service, which led to a fruitful career for 22 years.
Sergio would have continued working hard, pushing himself in the same direction, had an injury not stopped him in his tracks.
“After injuring my arm and losing my job, I was kind of down and out, and I guess a little depressed,” Sergio said. “And didn’t know exactly where to turn in my life.”
Sergio kept trying to apply to new technical fields where he could continue working hard through the injury, but he kept hitting a roadblock: a high school diploma.
“Back then you could go into vocational schools without a high school diploma. You could also join the military without a high school diploma. And I had assumed I got my high school diploma while I was in service, but I was wrong,” he said.
Thanks to his history of hard work, Sergio buckled down and got started on taking down this roadblock one step at a time.
“Without hard work, you can’t really be anything in life. You have to work really hard at it,” Sergio said. “Even though I’m at the age that I am, I’m still just going for it.”
Within six shorts months, Sergio’s hard work paid off tenfold. He received his high school diploma in March, enrolled in electrician school, and is now working full time as tech support with HP.
“I owe a lot to those teachers and staff who supported me along the way, but I had to do the work though. I spent a lot of long hours at night studying and doing homework, but it all paid off,” Sergio said. “I’m grateful that as long as I put the work in there, I was just moving – boom, boom, boom. Getting it done. Everything was there ready for me.”
If Sergio could pass on one piece of advice to anyone out there feeling lost it is to take control of your own life.
“Throughout my life I’ve had a different understanding of what I thought life should be. Before, you know, it really actually didn’t even matter to me. It wasn’t until later on in life, I had my understanding enlightened, and I started to see that there’s purpose – there’s a reason and we need to take hold of what that is and for each person it may be different,” he says. “It isn’t just a fly by life concept – you know – you live, you die, that’s it. There is more of a sense to it – an accountability aspect to it. When I recognized that, it made me realize that I needed to start thinking things out in a much different way.”