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Jun 22, 2022

Victor Parham: From High school Dropout to High school Graduate

It is not often that we hear positive stories like that of twenty five year old Victor Parham, a former gang member, and a teenage high school dropout, who now lives a reformed life. In his latest feat, Parham successfully went back to high school two years ago at the Gwen Lizarraga Evening Division. He is now a graduate with a high school diploma, an achievement he never imagined accomplishing eight years ago. Parham now wants to use his story to inspire youths from across the country to believe in their personal abilities, especially those who have given up hope on a life outside of crime. News Five’s Paul Lopez reports.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

Meet Victor Parham, the twenty-five-year-old Belize City resident who decided to return to secondary school after being expelled twice at the age of fifteen. His expulsion led to him spending the next eight years of his young life involved with gang activity. Parham was born and raised in one of the most notorious areas on southside Belize City, known as 123rd. He has borne witness to numerous acts of violence. Disobedience resulted in Parham being kicked out of two different high schools, including Nazarene and Maude Williams.


Victor Parham

Victor Parham, Graduate, Gwen Lizarraga

“You know how nuff teenagers go today day, you understand. Dah like,I mih like it and thing. Just due to when yo young and thing yo behave unruly at times and stuff like that, mek I mih end up get expelled from Nazarene. I mih decide fihgawn back dah Maude Williams and thing. But, eena wah month I get expelled again you know. That’s why I decided to stop. And then, I mih deh pan the street fih eight years.”


Parham says he initially gave up on finishing high school because he believed that his parents could have put his tuition to better use. A number of his relatives have fallen victim to gun violence over the years. In July 2016, Parham was walking along with his cousin, Devin Parham, on Cemetery Road when a gunman approached them and unleashed a hail of bullets in their direction. Devin Parham was shot nine times. He died on the spot. Victor was fortunate to escape with his life.


Victor Parham

“Throughout that whole eight years dah mih just lone lost, lone pain, suffering, lost, being in and out of jail, and dah like no gain. Witness people to get killed front ah me, you understand, police the bother me twenty four and more, stuff like that. So, all dende weh I gone through right deh, my experience, past experience, dende motivate me fih do other stuff fih get different results.”


Parham says his return to school eight years later was motivated by his stepmother, his two-year-old daughter and nine-year-old stepson. They, along with those tough experiences he had in the streets made him realize that it was time for him to change the course of his life.


Victor Parham

“Ih mih feel really good you know. After eight long years of just pain and suffering and stuff like that pan the street, I mih feel really good fihdeh round mih class mates, mih teachers, a lot of love you understand. I just seh, you know, fih dah eight years weh I deh pan the street, I nuh the lokfih come waste my money or come waste, cause I get a lee help financial wise fih gone back dah school to yo dig, thanks to mih step mother and stuff like. Like I seh, I can’t let them down, or myself, or my family, suh hear wehtheguh on now, I wah capitalize pan that and just duh what I need fih do and hengeen check and just successfully mek it out. That was my intention from the get go. I proud ah myself fihmek that come through same ways.”


Paul Lopez

“Tell us how graduation day felt for you, what was running through your mind? Was it an emotional day for you?”


Victor Parham

“Yes, I was really emotional, because it brings me a lot of joy fih mek my kids deh see me the march up and thing like that, they get my diploma and stuff like that, because I know that I wah motivate them same way to. Deh wah think about that. Deh wah never forget that.”


During his two years at Gwen Lizarraga High School Evening Division, Parham was engaged in the Alternative to Violence Program through the Leadership Intervention Unit. The Alternative to Violence Program focuses on violence interruption, and building anger management and mediation skills. William Dawson, the Chairman of LIU, has been at Parham’s in this leg of his journey.


William Dawson

William Dawson, Chairman, Leadership Intervention Unit

“I am very happy that Channel Five chose to highlight Victor’s story. I think we focus too much on the negatives and stories like these should be inspirational for young men who believe they can’t make it out. We hear this so often that young men and women are disappointed, not focused on trying to be better. But, when you have stories like these, I am sure that it can inspire and motivate some young man and young woman out there who said I can’t do it. And, that is the take away from all of this.”


Victor Parham, Graduate, Gwen Lizarraga

“I learn a lot of stuff there, conflict resolution and stuff like that. Before attending dah program deh I dah mih the type a person weh react, and then think. But, after attending the program and successfully completed it, it makes me think different. Every decision I make today day, I think before I react.”


Parham shared some insight for those who may have had experiences similar to his and are inspired by his story.


Victor Parham

“I just want deh understand, just believe eenaunu self to mein. If unu sih ten person the trod a negative path, yon uh follow them, because at the end of the day now you have to memba that when you partake eena criminal activity, yonuh only the put your life eena danger. You the put from the oldest to the youngest eena your family or household eena danger.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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