Elijah Squaire began attending School of Unlimited Learning (SOUL) his freshman year of High School and is on schedule to graduate high school early. Squaire was a founding member of the SOUL Interact Club and volunteers regularly at the Boys & Girls Club of Fresno County, while also taking classes at Fresno City College.
Recently Squaire was recognized as a finalist for the Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year for his community service and leadership in the Keystone Club, a team helping young people find leadership opportunities.
“Someone told me about the Boys & Girls Club and I started going there to volunteer every day after school. I eventually became the president of a club there and recruited teens to help with service projects.”
Squaire is also very involved at SOUL. He volunteers with the Interact Club, plays sports and continues to keep his grades up. Visiting senior centers, collecting backpacks for homeless and partnering with the Fresno Rotary Club have been some of his favorite memories.
“If I had gone to a bigger high school I would not have had the same experience and might have gone down the wrong path,” Squaire said. “That’s why I’m thankful I’m here because I don’t know what I would be doing.”
The beginning of high school wasn’t easy. Squaire came to SOUL as a formerly homeless youth and spent years prior to high school without a formal education. As a freshman, he struggled to keep up in the classroom and found himself getting in trouble; however he credits the support from SOUL and the Boys & Girls Club for giving him the support he needed.
“There is stability here,” Squaire said. “So many things happened in my life I didn’t know what to do or how to control the end result. A lot of things you just have to deal with but I do have to thank SOUL because they really helped.”
Squaire mentioned the small class sizes and relationships with staff helped him feel more comfortable coming into a new environment. “They see all that potential in me,” Squaire said. SOUL also offers students counseling, case management and access to a life coach, support services that help students overcome barriers effecting them in the classroom.
“When I wasn’t at SOUL getting help I was volunteering and getting help from the Boys & Girls Club,” Squaire said. “It was perfect because I had all the support I needed during and after school.”
Elijah Squaire is an example of how an education at SOUL and support from community partners like The Boys & Girls Club can make a lasting impact on a student’s life.