Ramone Barrett grew up in Jamaica with his mother where she taught him how to cook. “I would complain about having nothing to eat and she would tell me, ‘There is food, you just have to make something.’” He learned that there was always something if he got creative. Two years ago, when he was 22 years old, he moved to Brooklyn to live with his sister. While in a bus, his sister learned about The RBSCC Community Empowerment Center. When his sister shared the information with Ramone, he enrolled in high school equivalency (GED) classes at the center.
“The hardest part in the beginning was the metro cards. They got expensive. But I always made it work, even if I had to walk.”
“The people who stayed in the program for a while became my friends. They were the first friends I had when I moved here. I still keep in contact with some of them on Facebook.”
Ramone got his High School Equivalency Diploma and found himself standing in front of another unexpected opportunity. The Saint John’s University Advantage Academy offered scholarships to eligible students and Romone was accepted. “I hesitated at first because I thought that you had to have money set aside to go to college. I worried I would be missing out on finding a job and helping my family out right away.” “Pavel, [the Career Pathways Program Director] encouraged me to go to college first.” Applying his same determination to ‘make it work’, Ramone works the night shift as a Machine Operator at Coin Wrap Inc.. He often works from 11:00 pm -7:00 am with his classes starting as early as 12:15 pm.
Ramone wants to open a supermarket or a restaurant, in New York and Jamaica. “I like mixing Spanish food with Caribbean food.”
Ramone is now in his second semester at Saint John’s University and when I asked him what advice he would give anyone coming to the center for the first time he said “Stay focused and give your best. You can’t give up because it’s worth it. You are worth it. Having an education is worth it.”