Meet Student State Representative Sonny, Be Strong’s April 2022 Student of the Month!
“We must learn to coexist, unite, and love each other. As we fight the same battles, love big, and breathe the same, we must put our differences aside for the well-being of all. I stand firm on the belief that when we see injustice, harm, or wrongdoing, it is our duty as a friend, neighbor, or peer to stand up for those in their most vulnerable times.”
Growing up, Sonny faced homelessness and hunger — but nothing could take away his hope. As his parents became victims of the opioid epidemic, Sonny often had to fend for himself and his brothers, doing anything he could to find food and essentials for living.
As a Be Strong Student State Representative from Oklahoma, Sonny has a mission inspired by the challenges he’s faced in his life. And as a high school senior, he’s seen more struggle than most.
“I remember I had these toy magnets that I loved, they were my favorite,” Sonny said. “But me and my brothers were going hungry, and we didn’t have anything else as we were living in a car. I found a stranger to sell my toy to, and he gave me money so I could buy one hamburger for me and my brothers to share.”
Unfortunately, Sonny’s experience is far from uncommon, as many experience homelessness and food insecurity every day. His childhood struggles inspire his work now, helping folks get the food and items they need to survive.
“Not having food not only deprives you of your health, it deprives you of having a soul,” Sonny said. “Not having that basic need met strips you of your dignity and humanity, and I want to help eliminate that struggle for as many people as possible.”
To help others in need, Sonny uses the Be Strong App to locate resources like food, shelter, and counseling. While volunteering at a food pantry in Downtown Oklahoma City recently, Sonny was asked by a man where he could find food moving forward. Sonny was able to use the Be Strong App’s location-based services to provide those in need with nearby food resources for ongoing help.
Caring for others goes beyond meeting physical needs, too. Sonny believes in being a friend to everyone, spreading positivity, and teaching resilience.
“Be Strong has allowed me to use my platform to share my story and help people who face similar situations,” Sonny said. “Together, we learn important lessons of resilience and positivity and work toward a stronger community and better mental health for everyone.”
It all comes down to simple actions, like making a new friend in the cafeteria or serving as a friendly face in the hallways at school.
“Every day I walk into my school or my community, I always put a smile on my face even on the hardest of days,” Sonny said. “My smile not only reflects me as a person, but it cultivates a comforting and positive attitude among my peers. It brings joy to my heart knowing that people see me as a positive person in their environment.”
Anyone who meets Sonny can tell he’s destined to change the world on a major scale. His fierce passion for advocacy combined with his love for writing has sparked his interest in law school.
He’s headed to college in the fall on a pre-law track with dreams of studying constitutional law and serving as a district court judge. His vision for the future is one of hope and positivity.
“In a ravished world filled with anger, hopelessness, and hurt, I believe that it’s vital that we unite and coexist as human beings,” Sonny said. “Coming from a home life filled with addiction and poverty, I’ve learned how to turn every situation I’ve endured into motivation to make me stronger and more resilient.”
He hopes to use his story to inspire others and show that a brighter future is possible for everyone. “Sharing my life story is something I value,” Sonny said. “I don’t do it because I want people to feel bad, but rather to connect with those around me who can relate to my experience. I want to show that happiness, strength, and resilience is possible in hopes of inspiring them to seek and realize their value.”