College once seemed far out of reach for Jonathan Chavez. The Queens native dropped out of high school twice.
"I grew up believing that school just wasn't something that was for me," Chavez said.
It wasn't until his son was born that Chavez realized an education would open more doors for him and his growing family.
"I had been working multiple jobs and it was still difficult to make ends meet and I realized that I need to take some steps to change my life," Chavez recalled.
He says that change began with the Kaplan Educational Foundation.
It's an organization that gives students of color -- many first-generation and low-income -- financial and academic support.
He was selected for the program and says thanks to his Kaplan mentors, he was able to graduate with his Bachelor's Degree from Bard College.
"It taught me to dream big, which, I had forgotten a long time ago," Chavez said.
Now he's helping others reach their dreams, too.
Chavez went back to the Kaplan Educational Foundation as a volunteer six years ago.
He designed and launched the program's mentorship initiative.
Chavez holds workshops and spends one-on-one time with students as they navigate the college transfer process.
"We are a growing foundation and he was one of the first people to say, 'You can't grow this if you don't have other people helping you, and I'll be the first.' And he has been here. I cannot thank him enough," said Nancy Sanchez, Executive Director of Kaplan Educational Foundation.
Sanchez says Chavez serves not only as a volunteer and mentor, but also an inspiration.
"Eighty percent, I feel, of this journey of transfer and being a recent migrant is understanding that it's possible. And seeing Jonathan just kill it in life, is really nice," said Rukayat Akinola, a Kaplan Educational Foundation scholar.
It's something Chavez never thought was possible.
"It brings me a lot of pride, for sure. And it just motivates me even further to think, what's next?" Chavez said.
So for guiding young students on a path toward success, Jonathan Chavez is our New Yorker of the Week.