'I want to be a mentor and give youth hope'
Get to Know… Orieon Thurston, Assistant principal at John Marshall High School.
Are you originally from the Rochester area?
No. I grew up in Key West, Florida. I moved to Rochester from St Cloud with my wife and kids in 2018 when I accepted the position as Assistant Principal at John Marshall High School.
What do you like best about Rochester?
I like how family-oriented it is. There's a lot of different things for kids to do and trails to walk with the family. I also like that my kids having access to a good education with a diverse population.
What changes do you think should be made?
I think there should be more of an emphasis on building the community with more resources for families to support in all aspects including social and emotional. There are a lot of untreated mental health and it continues to rise. There's research that shows mental health issues have doubled since 2019. There are numerous concerns and unfortunately the lack of access everywhere is a concern for the county and the schools. It's impacting everyone.
What do you do for a living?
Assistant Principal at John Marshal. And l referee high school basketball.
Why did you choose this career?
I wanted to be able to give back to the community, especially to youth and families that come from a similar culture that I come from. I want to be a mentor and give youth hope and an opportunity to continue to push themselves and be who they want to become without limitations. There are numerous stereotypes that define how you grow up and it will determine what you pursue in the future. All youth can amount to what they want to become with resources and self aspiration.
What one piece of advice would you give for someone looking to pursue the same career?
Stay true to yourself and don't compromise your integrity, character, principles and values.
What do you consider your biggest accomplishment? Greatest challenge you've had to overcome?
One of my greatest accomplishments is continuing my education even when there were challenges along the way. I was able to obtain my Associates Degree, Bachelor's Degree, two Masters Degrees, and a K-12 Administrative License. I grew up in the projects and was the first in my family to decide to go to college and figure out how to navigate this on my own. I come from a single mother who I watched struggle, not knowing my father, growing up with financial struggles, yet able to get where I am today through hard work. These are the reasons I choose to give back to youth and families because I understand/experience the struggle.
What is one thing that most people don't know about you?
I enjoy singing.
Get to know ... is a feature in Rochester In Color, a special section within the Post Bulletin's website that profiles people of color in our community. Find it at www.postbulletin.com/rochester-in-color . If you know of someone who should be featured, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org