From the Street to the Stage: A Former Street kid Becomes an Ateneo Graduate

From the Street to the Stage: A Former Street kid Becomes an Ateneo Graduate

"Never Underrate A Street Boy!"

Genereux Philip

When we talk about street children, what usually comes to mind are trouble-makers, juvenile delinquents and hopeless abandoned orphans. A street kid who is a college graduate would seem hard to find. However, despite all the negative labels, there are still a few who have succeeded against all odds, like Rusty Quintana. He was  once a kid who wandered Divisoria in Cagayan de Oro sniffing rugby, running drugs for a syndicate and stealing just to get by, but now, he is a Development Communications graduate from the Xavier University – Ateneo de Cagayan.

Rusty’s life started with a misadventure when he and his brother arrived in Divisoria, Cagayan de Oro City. He was only six then, but because his brother was put to jail,  he was forced to break the law just to survive. He was then adopted by a Catholic Foundation, but left it after four years when his brother was set free. UCA News even mentioned that he was in and out of a center for conflict for children, spent some time in the city jail and spent two years in a youth rehabilitation center.

Photo Credit: Mother Theresa Foundation Inc.

Photo Credit: Mother Theresa Foundation Inc.

But all that misadventure turned around when he saw an exhibit outside Xavier University when he was 17. The art exhibit by Rhyan Casino of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts sparked curiosity to the street kid’s mind.

I saw the paintings and sculpture and it captured my imagination, I know how to draw, but not that much.

Rusty, who had been looking at the artworks for days, finally approached Casino. He was then asked by Casino if he wanted to change. Because of Rusty’s determination, Casino took the then teenager in, mentored him until Rusty started to do henna tattoos, became a street performer, fire dancer and musician. At the age of 20, Rusty finally decided to apply at Xavier University and finally got a scholarship grant from the school.

Rusty represented his organization that won the (TAYO) TEN ACCOMPLISH YOUTH ORGANIZATION.

Rusty represented his organization that won the (TAYO) TEN ACCOMPLISH YOUTH ORGANIZATION.  Photo Credit: Mother Theresa Foundation, Inc.

Last March 28, 2015, Rusty, now 25,  finally went up the stage to get his diploma for graduating with a degree in Development Communication from Xavier University- Ateneo de Cagayan. Once one of the seemingly hopeless juvenile delinquents, Rusty now is an inspiration of determination to many young people and is now also determined to get more kids off the street.

I have now my father, my siblings, and a nephew to think about. I must work for them, but they have to learn how to live too. Nothing in life is easy.

Rusty, with his father Rodolfu Quintana Photo Credit: Rappler

Rusty, with his father Rodolfu Quintana
Photo Credit: Rappler

 

About author

G.A. Viray
G.A. Viray 252 posts

G.A. had a lot of professional working experiences in different fields and industries before finally deciding to write articles in 2014. She is a Registered Nutritionist-Dietitian who also has a passion for teaching, training and facilitating. More than all her skills and passions, she is very much grateful that she is blessed with an adorable daughter and a loving husband.

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