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Teen overcomes self-defeating behaviors to find success

Yefri Acevedo celebrated his high school graduation with Jose Cabrera, the Boys Town Care Coordination Consultant who helped

​As his fellow seniors at Central Falls High eagerly looked forward to graduation day and the new adventures that would follow, Yefri Acevedo was indifferent.    

School was no longer a priority, as evidenced by his abysmal attendance record and countless incompletes. Yefri's underwhelming academic performance cast serious doubt on whether he'd earn a diploma at all.    

"I procrastinated a lot and ditched my schoolwork," Yefri said. "I hung out with friends instead of staying after school and finishing my homework."

Yefri's family had always encouraged him to excel in the classroom so he would have more options in life and not struggle to make ends meet. Whenever they asked about his grades, however, Yefri made excuses or changed the subject. He didn't want to disappoint them.       

With no one to confide in, Yefri grew more stressed, his attitude soured and his prospects for graduating dimmed. That's when a school counselor introduced him to Boys Town New England Care Coordination Services, a program designed to ensure appropriate support and resources are available to children like Yefri who struggle with academic failure and poor behavioral choices.

Yefri needed an advocate and a mentor. In stepped Boys Town Care Coordination Consultant Jose Cabrera.

"When we first met, he was silent and skeptical," Jose said. "He didn't trust me and didn't think I could tell him anything he hadn't heard a thousand times before."

Earning Yefri's trust took patience. For months, the two met regularly. In the beginning, Jose mostly listened while reassuring Yefri he had no ulterior motives.   

"I straight-up said I was in his life to learn about his goals and help make those goals happen," Jose said.

In time, Yefri's confidence in, and respect for, Jose grew, and he opened up about his troubles.

"I was wasting time around people who were a bad influence on me. Plus, I was terrible at time management. Even when teachers extended their deadlines, I still didn't get the work done," Yefri admitted.      

With constant encouragement and the occasional admonishment, Jose challenged Yefri to stop his self-defeating behaviors and save his senior year. Jose held the teen accountable when he missed class or was late with an assignment. Together, they created a daily schedule and prioritized Yefri's schoolwork.    

"I told him he could accomplish absolutely anything he set his mind to, and he's smart enough to get over any obstacle," Jose said.

The more Jose pushed, the better Yefri responded. He spent hours completing past-due assignments while staying on top of his current studies and distancing himself from bad influences. He also filled out job applications with Jose's help.

Yefri's hard work was ultimately rewarded in a big way when he earned his diploma with the class of 2017. A week later, he was certified in a job training program. Now, he's a college student majoring in business administration and working full-time.  

"All Yefri needed was someone to nudge him in a better direction," Jose said. "Once he tasted success, it restored his motivation to make something of his life."