Lemons To Lemonade

By Jonathan Berenguer • January 11, 2018

I was born in the Bronx, NYC. I was premature and weighed 2 pounds and 11 ounces with fluid in my brain. I was incubated for 4 months. Within those 4 months, my mother passed away and she never got the opportunity to hold me. My maternal grandparents stepped in to care for me and were told by the doctors that I would not reach my first birthday.

I made it to my second birthday.

I began to have chronic asthma that led to breathing issues and doctors feared that I wouldn't make it to my third birthday. I made it to my fourth birthday. Around this time my father went to prison. He promised my maternal grandmother that he would be there for me when he got out. He kept his promise. He got out and bought me a bike, a baseball glove, and 3 books. He spent time with me and took me to his house.

Unfortunately, he was killed when I was 6 years old. In 3rd grade, after being adopted by my grandparents, a case worker was assigned to my sister and I and my evaluation stated that I would need academic tutoring and therapeutic counseling. In 5th grade, my grandfather passed away and I became the man of the house. I was very shy and closed. My 5th grade teacher, Mr. Plata, would talk to me about life and would encourage me to speak up and defend myself. He even taught me how to play sports so that I wouldn't get bullied. Also at that time, my grandmother's brother, Jose, came to live with us. He was there for me through middle school and parts of high school. In 6th and 7th grade I was in multiple fights, got suspended, cut class, and got calls home. In 8th grade, my math teacher, Mr. Morfe, encouraged me to help my classmates with math. When I did, it was the first time I felt useful and realized I could add value.

In high school my math teacher, Mr. DelaCruz, and my principal, Mr. Morales, also played a vital part in encouraging me to be an educator. After having bad grades in elementary and middle school, I graduated high school with honors in math and science and with a full scholarship to college.

During my sophomore year, with the help of my professor, Professor Boone, I started my first business, an academic tutoring company, By Your Side Tutoring.

I graduated college and became a high school counselor.

At 26 I started my second business, a motivational speaking business, 1 JB Inspires.

The early ingredients of my life may have ended up in a troubled, negative outcome, but with the intervention of these mentors (and others) the recipe of my life changed. After feeling broken, abandoned, and lost, I found my calling in life and dedicate myself to inspiring hearts and educating young minds.

Life gave me lemons, but God turned it all into lemonade.

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