What you are about to read may seem to be a result of creative thinking just out of a movie or a fictional novel. But may I confirm to you that the story that follows is not a work of fiction and is a true account of a man who has spent 16 years in jail and is now gearing up to take over the position of a CEO in a reputed non-profit organisation.
Here's an outline of John B. Valverde's story that is bound to inspire everyone who has given up dreaming big.
John B. Valverde, the 47-year-old ex-con will be taking over as the Chief Executive Officer of YouthBuild USA Inc. on January 3, 2017.
YouthBuild USA Inc. is a non-profit organisation that aims to help the low-income, young dropouts recoup their lives and learn skills to land a job. It is a global network of programs and aids such people to become community leaders.
The young and smart Valverde had a promising future but an incident in 1991 landed him in prison.
At the age of 20, John Valverde shot a photographer named Joel Schoenfeld, who had raped his girlfriend. Schoenfeld died and Valverde was convicted of manslaughter. He was imprisoned for 16 years before being released on parole.
He said, "From the first moment, I knew that what I did was wrong, but it was a long journey for me to accept full responsibility without rationalisation, justification or excuse or blame."
Valverde didn't allow his imprisonment to cast a dark shadow over his future. He earned a bachelor's degree in Behavioral Science from Mercy College followed by a master's degree in Urban Ministry from the New York Theological Seminary while serving his punishment.
He was released in 2008 and worked as a paralegal for some time before moving on to work with non-profit organisations. He spent seven years working with Osborne Association, a New York organisation that works to provide education, treatment, and vocational service programs to both current and former inmates.
He was quoted saying, "I felt called to perhaps be a face for second chances and a voice for second chances".
It wasn't much of an effort to make the leap to YouthBuild and he was selected for the job from among the 124 other candidates who had appeared for the interview.
People who had enrolled with YouthBuild were initially shocked to hear about Valverde's story but he won them over with his sheer honesty and positivity. He showed them that the past shouldn't define future and whatever happened earlier should in no way be a hindrance to building a bright future.
Valverde is extremely positive about his work. He says that the young people being served by YouthBuild should not be referred to as "at-risk youth" as it emits negativity. Instead, he coined a new term for them "opportunity youth" to make it sound more encouraging.
"'Opportunity youth' is really flipping that to say, 'I am a person that's full of potential,'" he said. "'I can do anything in the world.'"