Domongoe Scott poses in front of a mural. (Alastair Boone)

Domongoe Scott wants to lead by a good example. At 44 years old, the Oakland native believes there is no better opportunity than the present to change the direction in one’s life.

After spending a number of years in and out of prison and jumping from place to place, he found himself homeless. “Sometimes God lets you go through things to help you find an answer to life’s Scott said. problems,” Last year during the summer, he said he was living in a tent. Today, he is 11 months sober, and his bright and charismatic personality don’t reveal his struggles. In fact, he radiates hope.

“I’ve been looking for the best opportunity to better myself,” he said, adding that being the youngest of 12 siblings pushed him in the right direc- tion and helped him get through his difficult times of drug abuse.

“I am now at an age where I am trying my best to hold on to any support group I can,” Scott said.

And today it’s the people in his life who have become his most valuable mentors, like Angela Taylor, principal at Oakland Adult and Career Education, who met Scott at the end of 2009.

“I’ve seen moments in his life where he has just excelled. He is a fortunate person,” said Taylor.

Scott attends the Berkeley Adult School two days a week and is working towards receiving his GED.

He began attending Taylor’s GED classes when he was still homeless. It was only recently when Scott found housing at a halfway house, where he has been living since January.

“I’ve been homeless all my life, but I’ve been living within programs (halfway houses) since I’ve been in and out of prison,” Scott said.

Through writing hip-hop music and a pen-pal newsletter he not only reminds himself of his accomplishments but hopes to inspire the next generation of young people.

“You have to put it in their language,” Scott says, about connecting with at-risk-youth and letting them know you have also walked in their shoes. Writing lyrics like “It’s my only best move, God will let me improve,” remind him that his journey is his own.

Scott finds his inspiration from American rapper, writer and actor Ice Cube, and looks up to individuals like professional boxer Laila Ali, Muhammad Ali’s daughter, and author R.A. Salvatore.

Scott understands the challenges of recovery and the fight to stay off the streets.

At his job readiness program, he says the environment is not always so pleasant, but it provides him with the necessary stability to stay off the streets. His hope is that he can save enough money to get his own place.

“We don’t always have to say and feel ‘poor me,’” Scott said, it’s about being able to apply the knowledge you’ve learned along the way and de- taching from the mindset of becoming a product of your environment.

His experiences have taken him on a path most would not successfully overcome.

“He can reach the stars, I really believe that,” Taylor said.

Lulu Orozco is a writer and documentary film studnt at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.