Higher education in America is often pitched as an opportunity of a lifetime. However, for many young people, their college days are the most financially difficult of their lives.
The New York Times recently profiled the life of Preston Roberson-Charles (pictured), a student at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, Queens. Roberson-Charles is a 20-something economics major from Saginaw, Michigan who has definitely dealt with financial hardship while enrolled at LaGuardia.
Up until December 2016, Roberson-Charles was homeless and had hard time not giving up hope. The former “The Real World” reality television star ran into his ordeal with homelessness after moving out of an apartment in Brooklyn, New York that was severely infested with bed bugs.
After that, Roberson-Charles started sleeping from pillar to post at the residences of his friends. This was a particularly rough time for him.
“Being homeless, it’s like you’re in limbo,” Roberson-Charles told the New York Times. ““You’re in this purgatory where you’re falling in and out of society. You spend a lot of time by yourself when you’re homeless because you get tired of explaining yourself to people,” he continued.
During his lengthy stint with homelessness, Roberson-Charles also lived in hotel rooms, homeless shelters, and dealt with feelings of deep depression brought on by a lack of dignity. However, when he found a job at LaGuardia working as a counselor for the school’s “Strive for Success” program, things started to turn around for the better.
In his job, Roberson-Charles gets to be of assistance and support LaGuardia students who are going through the same struggles he went through. He currently rents a small apartment in Woodside, Queens that he pays $850 per month for. Roberson-Charles is grateful for his new life but he remains realistic.
“I’m on the verge of being back there. All it takes is one wrong thing, and I’ll be right back there,” Roberson-Charles also told the New York Times. However, each new day puts him closer to a successful life that is far removed from the struggles of yesterday.