Youth Journalist, Jesse Andrews, will attend Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA in the fall. In this letter, he sends his final farewell wishes to the city and people who shaped his teen years.

Hello Fresno,

The time has come when opportunity has knocked on the door of my life. In the upcoming fall season, I will attend Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. I will study in Pre-Medical Science. I am excited for what God has in store for my future. I want to take time and write yo u one last time about how appreciative I am to all of you for allowing me to inspire, work and challenge not only you but also those around you to do the very best for a multitude of people.

I have come to realize the support and unity that is needed to help one another. I want you to know that I won’t forget where I have come from. Living in Fresno has been an enlightening experience. It’s in Fresno that I buckled down to think about my life with the help of my family and people like you. Greatness is on the inside and I thank you for the opportunity to express myself among many.

If you don’t get anything from the speeches I have made, the questions I have asked at community meetings, or the articles I have written, then get this: in order for the future to be great, allow the youth to go forward and express themselves. Let youth have a voice. I have met many leaders throughout the community who have made it to the top, but what and who does it benefit when their legacy can’t be passed on because they didn’t pour their heart out to a young person, teaching them the skills they’ve learned and things to look out for?

I applaud Bishop Samuel Doyle for showing me the way. I can remember him telling me, “Son, you might not want to hear this, but…” There have been many times when I didn’t but he told me all that I needed to know and made sure that I didn’t make the same mistake he made.

[pullquote_right]Young people, embrace your individuality, not the individuality of your cousins, friends, or family.[/pullquote_right]

Every young person is uniquely designed. Intellectually and physically. What would the world look like with twelve of us running around controlling it? No, it’s not utopia, it’s disaster. Young people, embrace your individuality, not the individuality of your cousins, friends, or family. No one can change you but you! The greatest enemy that stands between you and success is…(drum roll)…you! How many times did you wish you had done something different? Don’t allow fear to control your life. Fear already has its place on the Golden Gate bridge during a massive earthquake.  In a burning building, or even in your mama! But don’t allow it to stop or hinder you from doing and eventually getting you where you need to be.

As I go off to college, I am going to miss the people in Fresno. No place is stranger and more diverse than Fresno and its people. I am going to miss the California Valley Jurisdiction where I built my foundation. They have invested so much in me that it’s hard to say good-bye. Nevertheless, I am willing to. If you don’t have anything to get involved in, get involved with them. They have impacted so many lives throughout the Valley. I love them and I hope for them the best.

Their theme this year was “Unity: U-N-I-TY(ed) Together.” In other words, “you and I tied together.” Let’s take on that theme and watch what happens when people plant families in the Valley, it will give them experience like no other. I am thankful once again Fresno for embracing me. I leave knowing you are in good hands.

Some people have been asking me the big question, “Who’s going to take your place in the community?” That question should be on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire because the answer is simple, it’s…YOU. You, the person reading this.

I did it, but you can do better. I was no bigger than you, no greater than you. I was one of you so we have much to do and I know that you are capable of doing it and getting the job done. I thank you for your support and love. It was a privilege serving you.

Peace Be Unto You,
Jesse Andrews

PS: To stay updated on my college experience, tune in every Friday to:

Update: On August 9, 2009, ABC 30 aired stories about “Role Models” in the community for their series Children First. Jesse Andrews was one of the individuals featured in this episode. To view the story, please click here.

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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