18-year-old Markese has made great strides since living at the Mercy Home for Boys and Girls on Chicago’s West Side.
Today he shared his story at a graduation for Mercy.
He came to the home a little more than a year ago after being expelled from high school.
“I had behavior issues,” he says. “ I always seemed to get into some type of dispute with either other students or staff, teachers and ended up being suspended for things like that.”
He says his trouble with authority carried over to home with his mother as well.
“We kind of butted heads a lot, and it was basically another reason to come here.”
Rob Simpson is Markese’s advocate and mentor at Mercy.
“I’ve been working with him since day one just helping him learn how to channel his anger and frustration in certain situations, “ Rob says. “Which he’s made tremendous progress on.”
So much progress, that Markese will graduate this month from Jane Addams High School. He is in the running to be salutatorian of his class. And he had the highest grade point average at Mercy.
“ It was a lot of hard work, I don’t want to say I came in and did it easily,” he says.
Adding to his challenges, he has cerebral palsy and often uses a wheelchair.
“I have always dealt with it my own way I’ve never really allowed it to slow me down in any aspect.”
In fact, Markese keeps quite busy. He plays wheelchair basketball he has a job working in the kitchen at the home. And he’s also a rapper.
Markese’s experiences at Mercy have also contributed to his personal growth.
“I also believe with the right mindset anything can be accomplished and thing can be done,” he says.
And he is very grateful for what mercy has given him.
"I don’t want to say that Mercy saved me, but it definitely turned me around. I feel like without this, my future would have definitely been up in the air.”
Markese will attend college in the fall and plans to study music and continue rapping.