Despite the odds, one young writer is passionately chasing his literary dreams.
'I want to become a published author. And there’s nothing that’s going to stop me.'
Do you know what it’s like to have a dream that you’ll stop at nothing to achieve?
Justin Susan does.
When Justin first read a book that transported him to another world, he knew he wanted to re-create that magical feeling for others just like him.
"I want to become a published author. And there’s nothing that’s going to stop me."
All images via Taco Bell.
Since then, he's been working relentlessly to make his literary dreams a reality, one chapter at a time.
"When I feel like I'm going to stop, I think about if J.K. Rowling would've stopped," he says with a quiet confidence. "If John Green, Steven Spielberg — all these great people — if they would've stopped. It just keeps me going."
The odds, though, haven't often been in Justin's favor.
When Justin was in the eighth grade, he was reading and writing at a fifth-grade level.
Despite multiple attempts throughout high school, not once was Justin accepted into a college preparatory program. Justin is from the White Mountain Apache reservation, and organizations like College Horizons have reported the high school graduation rate for Native Americans is about half. And of that half, only 5% immediately go on to four-year colleges.
But Justin knows what it will take and is determined.
He wakes up around 5:30 a.m. to get his mind going and his blood flowing — a habit of some of the world's most successful people. For him, something as simple as a morning walk can make all the difference when it comes to tackling the day ahead.
The most inspiring part, however, is what drives him every single day.
"I want to work hard for it. And not only for, you know, the fame or any of that. I’m doing it out there for the simple inspiration for another kid out there just like me, who may not have the right path in life. And hopefully, my characters, my words, can help them just get a little closer to that right direction. And that is the biggest reason why I do it."
It's no wonder Justin stood out from the crowd and was eventually awarded the Live Más Scholarship from Taco Bell.
"Hope ... it gave me hope that my dreams are possible."
Those were Justin's words when he first found out he had won.
You see, Taco Bell is celebrating our young innovators, creators, and dreamers — the next generation of students whose skills go beyond the usual athletics and academics. Despite the challenges of the path ahead, these young men and women aren't afraid to dream big and do what they love. They're going after what they want in life and are doing it with determination and truckloads of heart.
Watch Justin talk about his inspirational journey: