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Former Foster Child Building Upon His Scholarly Successes

by Christin Ayers and Jennifer Mistrot

(KPIX 5) -- A Bay Area student who has always wanted to make things better for himself and his family is building a success story one project at a time.

You can call Centurion Barron Mr. Fix-it. The mechanical engineering major spent the summer behind-the-scenes in the Engineering Department at the San Francisco Ritz Carlton hotel.

LEARN MORE: Students Rising Above

"I just like building things and solving and fixing things," said Barron. "You're always working on a different project. New things are always coming up in the hotel."

Barron is used to being "the kid" who had to fix things. He and his siblings spent a significant amount of time in separated in foster care. When they finally reunited, Barron vowed to set a good example for his brothers and sisters by completing his college education and setting a career path.

"Experiencing everything around me that was going on, people using drugs, people doing bad things," recalled Barron. "I wanted to do something different, make my future better."

A family member told Barron about Students Rising Above and his dreams of a better future started taking shape. With SRA's help, Barron earned a scholarship to University of California, Merced; becoming the first in his family to go to college.

"My major is mechanical engineering," said Barron. "And with that major I hope to work on cars in the future or work with cars, hopefully design cars or design the engines of cars."

For now Barron says he is excited to be learning the ins and outs of the Ritz Carlton. Along the way, his work ethic and smarts have impressed the hotel's Engineering Director Philip Greatrick.

"What can't be taught is dependability, reliability," explained Greatrick. "And Centurion has proven to be both reliable and dependable. I think he has what it takes."

Like how to build a table from scratch, a summer project Barron started for his mother. The Ritz engineering department helped him build the table, using the department's work shop. And as far as setting a good example for his siblings, Barron says he has got that covered too.

"My youngest sister she just graduated high school, "said Barron. "And she's moving to Alabama. She's applying to schools out there which is really good."

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