Nov 29, 2017
For most of his life, 18-year old Roger did not fit in. Although he did well academically at school, most of his peers avoided him. “I had a ‘stay away from me’ aura and people didn’t like me,” says Roger as he reflects back on his elementary and high school years. Roger grew up in Salem with two older brothers. His parents got divorced when he was six. By fifth grade, he was experiencing depression and would lock himself up in his room all day. “My mom forced me to cook so she could see me.”
When he was a high school freshman, Roger reached a breaking point and moved to his father’s house and a new school. He was treated with different medications for a few years, but they were not effective. After getting into trouble repeatedly, he was transferred to GAP—an in-between temporary residence program in Salem where he lived until he was placed into Janus' residential program, Cordero.
“The first thing staff at Cordero asked me was, “what do you want to do with your life?” No one had ever asked me that before, but I immediately said “game design.” That was the start of Roger’s journey toward a new beginning. Another huge factor that helped with his transformation was getting better medication to help his depression. Says Roger, “It was almost like I didn’t see in color before.”
Roger quickly got involved in the technology programs that Cordero offered at their on-campus school, including 3-D printing and laser engraving. It was the perfect fit for his interests and he flourished. Roger graduated high school in 2017 and will graduate from Cordero next spring. He is still pursuing his dream of becoming a game designer. He currently studies Japanese at Portland Community College to fulfill language requirements and he chose Japanese because of Japan’s leadership in game design. He plans to apply to the Game Art and Design program at the Art Institute of Design in Portland.
According to Roger, when he sees his family, “They say they would not recognize me if I didn’t look like the old me. I smile more and let people come near me. Cordero helped me change and see the world in a different way.” Roger currently volunteers at the Janus Administrative office, helping with a variety of office tasks.
Although Roger has big plans for his future, he is taking focusing on the present. “Sometimes it is too daunting to look ahead. I can get stuck in the headlights. Instead, I focus on every step, one-by-one and then look backwards.”