Growing up in the Logan Section of Philadelphia, Greg Damas was offered plenty of opportunities to descend down the common path of alcohol abuse, drugs and violence. He witnessed first-hand the result of his devastating environment by watching the mistakes of close friends and family members. Yet, he never allowed his surroundings to define him. It was never an excuse to give-up or give-in; it was fuel for his motivation to succeed.
“I think anyone, regardless of your environment, can develop persistence, hard work, and dedication.” Greg says. “There are so many success stories of people that come from so many different environments. It just takes you wanting to be the change that you want to see.”
That positive change started when Greg became student body president at Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School, an institution whose mission is to prepare students from low-income families for post-secondary educational opportunities. Encouraged by his immigrant mother, Greg was committed to becoming a voice for others and pursued leadership development both inside and outside of school. He participated in TMF’s pilot character and leadership course as part of the Character Does Matter program sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. . And for his commitment to improving the North Philadelphia community through service projects, he was named TMF’s 2016 “If Not Me, Then Who…” Scholarship Recipient.
Even with all of his achievements and service, Greg remains humble.
Greg speaks of his character as an ever-evolving process. “I step out into my street, I step out into the world every day, and that’s where I grow in my character; whether that means interacting with new people, whether that means getting outside my comfort zone. I'm never going to stop. The day I die, in that bedroom, 90 years old and my family around me, they're going to know, 'He was still trying to work on his character’.”
As he begins his freshman year of college, Greg will undoubtedly make an impact in the world. The success he sees will be a direct result of perseverance in challenging situations and an unwavering commitment to “be the change” he wants to see in the world.
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