By Cherise Permaul
For my entire life, Los Angeles has always been a symbol for hope. In my carefully constructed mind, Los Angeles was a place of dream fulfillment and I was going to chase it until my heart was content. This is not my first time in Los Angeles, but it is definitely the most special. When I arrived here only about a month ago, I didn’t know what to expect. I came with a lot of physical and mental damage and wasn’t sure I had the confidence or the drive to make my dreams come true. Being an introvert, I’m always wary of making new friends. I’m from the New York City area, so driving wasn’t a thing for me either. Although I had been to Los Angeles, this environment was strange. It was high class, professional- something I wasn’t used to based on where I grew up. I was extremely terrified. Within a few minutes of arriving I met my first new friend, Matt- a charming and funny guy who I never thought I’d be a friend with. Then I met my roommates and new best friends- Bailey, Emily, and Maria. These girls are amazing and made me feel right at home. Soon I met Kelvin, Nick, Jose, and an assortment of other colorful characters in the program that I’ve grown to love. Slowly, I started to open up to people who challenged my beliefs, stimulated my creativity, and encouraged me to follow my goals. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt so accepted and liked by such an amazing group of people. It’s a relief to finally be around individuals who understand my dreams and who share similar aspirations. I’ll admit, I was very wary of coming to Los Angeles because I was afraid I wouldn’t belong, but now I know that this is always where I was meant to be.