Salomon Torrescano is no stranger to challenges. He’s faced foster care, working to accept himself as gay, substance abuse, addiction, and losing loved ones. But luckily, he has transformed his life and is now working to help others overcome the challenges they face.
Salomon noticed he was different when he was just 12 years old. He spent years trying to accept the fact that he was gay, working his way through substance abuse and the foster care system at the same time.
It wasn’t until he hit rock bottom that things shifted. He had an addiction to crystal meth, and he lost a close friend to addiction.
“I had nowhere to go,” he said. Salomon was ready for a change.
Salomon had a mentor who was HIV positive, working in the healthcare field helping others learn about HIV and improve their lives. Salomon saw all the good his friend was doing, and it inspired him to do the same. So he got started working in healthcare.
Salomon started by doing HIV testing, helping people learn if they were HIV positive and point them in the direction of help if they were. He eventually moved forward to work with high-risk youth teaching about HIV prevention.
“The help that I got helped drive me to want to help others,” Salomon said. Salomon found that some of the people he was teaching were those he had known in foster care, who were now on the streets. Salomon wanted to offer them the same kind of help that he got so they could move forward with their lives.
But Salomon realized there were limits to how far he could advance his work without a degree. He had the qualifications and experience, but he didn’t have the degree he needed to compete. That’s when he found WGU.
“I chose WGU because I love the flexible model,” he said. “I loved the fact that it was online, you can go at your own pace. I always did well when I did things on my own. And I learn better that way.”
Today, Salomon is creating LGBTQ services within the facility of a non-profit as part of his capstone. He has a bright future ahead, one filled with helping others and changing their lives, the same way that his life was changed.
“My advice to people that are out there and feel like things are getting tough is believe in hope and perseverance,” he said. “Don’t give up. Keep trying. Believe in yourself.”