Tommy, From BOOF Student to Program Assistant

“BOOF changed my life. Before BOOF, I wouldn’t go out, I didn’t speak up in class, I was shy and kept to myself. BOOF provided me with a safe space to express myself.”

Tommy is a Communications Major student at De Anza College and is our AMPLIFY program assistant since October 2016 —AMPLIFY is AACI’s free afterschool and summer program for all youth. BOOF, a component of AMPLIFY , is part of a statewide, youth-led campaign bringing awareness to problem gambling —. Tommy is perfect for the role since he has spent 3 years as a BOOF student and also volunteered for the program before applying for the position this year.

Today, Tommy goes out with his friends a lot, enjoys good company and describes himself as “a mix of introvert and extrovert”. But when Tommy came to the BOOF program as a sophomore, he was shy and had some difficulty learning to be accountable and with school work. During the BOOF program, Tommy developed communication skills, met a lot of new people, and learned about prioritizing and professionalism. BOOF also represented his first exposure to photography and film-making, which became something he grew to really enjoy.

Tommy appreciates receiving advice on problem gambling during BOOF, since he knew someone affected by the issue, and was able to help him.

By the time he graduated high school, Tommy expressed the desire to keep learning from AACI and to give back to the project that helped him grow. Soon after, he became a volunteer and got the opportunity to learn from the professional side of things.

When asked what he is hoping for the future, Tommy replies: “I plan to work with AACI for a while, there’s a really good atmosphere here. Being a BOOF staff will help me open my eyes for my future career since I am still uncertain what to do once I graduate. I am so thankful that BOOF changed my life. Before I wouldn’t go out much, I didn’t speak up in class, I was shy and kept to myself. BOOF provided me with a safe space to express myself. To the youth, I want to say if you have the opportunity to participate in BOOF, go for it, it will change your life!”