"One never knows the importance of an education until they are forced to change their life," said FSCJ Student Antonio Garrett.
At a young age, Mr. Garrett found himself participating in various types of crimes and was in and out of juvenile detention which later escalated to jail terms. In 2003, he was severely injured by gun violence and was left with a permanent visual impairment.
While adjusting to his new way of life, Mr. Garrett came up with the idea to create a device that would provide him, and others living with similar disabilities, with more safety and security. He began to put his ideas on paper and filed for a patent of his mobile surveillance system in July 2009.
That year, he also made the decision to take charge of his life with hopes of becoming a more positive influence for his children. He enrolled in FSCJ's Adult Education program but was still plagued with the consequences of past decisions. In October 2010, he was forced to serve a two-year sentence. With the support and encouragement of his loving mother, he continued to take his classes through the incarceration and, despite the obvious difficulties, earned his GED® in 2012.
But Mr. Garrett didn't stop there. He decided to continue his studies at FSCJ. He originally enrolled in the Funeral Services program but soon felt the call to help others in need and made the switch to Human Services. He expects to graduate with his bachelor's degree in May of 2019.
"Being at FSCJ has shown me that staff and faculty are caring individuals who take education seriously. Not only do they take pride in the jobs they are doing, they take a personal interest in students," he said. "It has not been easy these last few years but I always know when I am coming to class, my instructors and the student body are also giving their best."
This past December, he was awarded a patent for his home security idea and the product is already being used by some surveillance companies. The licensing phase is now underway and he is hopeful to see his product become a household name soon.