Rhiannon Ferguson – Akins High School, Austin, TX

Rhiannon Ferguson – E4 Youth | LinkedIn

Rhiannon reflects on her senior year at Akins High School as a pivotal turning point in her life and creative career. Dealing with social phobia worsened by the return to in-person classes post-COVID, fell into a cycle of depression and nearly dropped out. But being appointed editor-in-chief of the yearbook and designer, alongside supportive teachers, pushed her to face her fears. Through painting murals, designing the yearbook, and even publishing her own children’s book, she found her confidence, proving that Akins was more than just a school—it was where she found her creative voice and began to conquer her mental health challenges.

Anthony Jackson – Austin Community College, Highland Campus

Anthony Jackson – Graphic Designer/Character Designer, E4 Youth

Anthony selected Austin Community College’s Highland campus, recognizing it as the foundational ground where his creative journey began. It was here that he crafted his inaugural logo and brought his first animated characters to life, milestones that paved his path into the realms of digital media, art, and production design. This campus wasn’t just a choice for Anthony; it was a pivotal nexus where his passion met opportunity, propelling him into a world where his artistic vision could flourish.

Darnell (D.K.) Wilson – Capital Plaza

Digital Docent – E4 Youth

Darnell chose Capital Plaza, a bustling strip mall in the Windsor Park neighborhood of Austin, Texas, as his landmark of resilience. Back in 2019, this place became an unlikely refuge where he spent nights in his car, a decision dictated by economics more than comfort. Juggling a variety of odd jobs, he viewed every dollar spent on a hotel as a setback from his hard-earned income. Amid the hum of nighttime activity at the plaza, Darnell made a solemn vow to himself — this situation would be a temporary chapter, not his life story.

Those months, under the dim glow of streetlights, were not just about survival; they were a crucible forging Darnell’s resolve and tenacity. The resolve that has since propelled him, fueling ambitions and dreams far exceeding the confines of his car’s four doors. Capital Plaza stands not just as a reminder of his toughest days but as a testament to the promise he made and kept — a promise of relentless pursuit towards a future he envisioned.

Jojo (JJ) Mayang – Mills Pond

Program Coordinator, E4 Youth

JJ chose Mills Pond, a serene park nestled in the Wells Branch district of Austin, Texas, as his sanctuary. Here, amidst whispers of leaves and gentle caresses of the breeze, he seeks solace, disconnecting from the bustling world to immerse in nature’s tranquility and reconnect with his inner self. Moreover, the park stands as a profound reminder: no journey is solitary. True strength blossoms from embracing community, vulnerability, and creativity.