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Soaring Toward His Destiny at Polk State

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Alex Uribe PictureSurrounded by dark clouds of hopelessness, Alex Uribe’s young life seemed destined to drown in a storm of despair. But with a strength and determination that belies his youth, he has struggled hard, after a harrowing past, to rise toward a glowing future.

The 22-year-old Polk State College student has had every reason to succumb to a life of endless hardships. Yet today he is well on his way to earning his Associate of Science degree to become a respiratory therapy assistant, and ultimately, a psychologist.

As a little boy, Alex faced the turmoil of his father’s alcoholism and the agony of both parents’ abandonment. When he was four, his mother left the family home. At seven, Alex’s father left him with an uncle after he and Alex emigrated to the U.S. from their native country of Mexico. Shifted around among relatives, Alex’s school life suffered as he got into fights and his grades plummeted. At 16, he ran away to Michigan, doing fifteen hour days of backbreaking labor in the Migrant program while still attending high school.

Although he was shell-shocked from his past, Alex had a dream that had dwelled in his heart since childhood – to become a psychologist and help those struggling with the addiction that had plagued both his father and his uncle. He came to realize that the only way to emerge from his painful past and make that dream a reality was to get an education.

Uribe returned to Polk County and with the help of caring people, enrolled at Ridge Community High School and in the Hearth Program for homeless teens. He worked hard, improved his GPA, graduated from high school and enrolled at Polk State College.

“It’s a drastic change – in high school, I never had any goals of going to college, and I never cared for science,” said Alex. “Now I’m studying to be a Respiratory Therapy Assistant, and it is very tough, but I feel good, and more confident than ever before. I know that there’s nothing that would inhibit me from accomplishing my goals,” said Uribe.

Passionate about helping others, Alex paid it forward by tutoring and mentoring students, and working in the College’s Enrollment Services and Outreach department.

Aiming to finish his AS degree in May 2016, Uribe realized that for the sake of his sixteen credit hour workload, he would have to reduce his hours at his construction job. He reached out to the Polk State College Foundation and received the First Generation Scholarship and the University of South Florida Scholarship.

“I really appreciate that from the bottom of my heart — I am really, really thankful,” said Uribe. “I appreciate the help that Polk State College has given me. Polk State College is the place where I was meant to be.”

After graduation, Alex plans to work in an area hospital and continue his education to become a psychologist. Above all, he is passionate about sharing his story and helping others. He plans to keep mentoring and volunteering with at-risk youth, and has begun working on a book about his life to inspire others, entitled Night Clouds.

“Now I’m becoming someone in life – because we ALL are someone in life. We’ve just got to realize that we are worth something and we are here for a reason,” said Uribe. “I’m so grateful that there have been people in my life that have been able to help me cope with my situation, and I want to be there for others and inspire them to rise above and achieve their dreams.”