In 1996, Shicoy Oxygene, now 31 years old and living in the San Francisco Bay area, was in the sixth grade and had been in the United States for less than one year when he enrolled in Pathways for Youth at the Presbyterian Community Center. Coming from Haiti with his mother and five siblings, his family first settled in Miami's "Little Haiti." His mom, however, wanted her children to have more American surroundings and she arranged the move to Roanoke. None of the family spoke English at the time.
Shicoy became a star pupil in Pathways because of his magnetic personality and his eagerness to learn all that he could. He had several tutors and a special mentor. An anonymous PCC donor, impressed with Shicoy's achievements and possibilities, paid tuition for him to attend a private high school. After graduation, he attended Elon University and received a degree in Communications and Marketing in 2006. He is currently the business manager for CoolSystems, Inc., a company that makes computerized therapeutic wraps for sore and injured muscles and joints.
He says the time spent with his tutors and mentor made the biggest and most lasting impression on him while at the PCC. Shicoy feels Pathways taught him to never let anyone else dictate what is possible or impossible in life. The program also taught him about the importance of setting good goals and then working to achieve them.
He credits his mother for instilling in him an ethic of hard work, determination, honesty and persistence. Shicoy marvels that she was able to buy the home in southeast Roanoke where he grew up and where family members still reside. Even with loan terms that Shicoy now knows were abusive, her attitude was always that she would make the payments no matter what. Despite the fact that her husband did not relocate to Roanoke, that she had six children, and that she dealt with serious medical conditions, she always worked two jobs and rarely missed a day.
Shicoy's mom passed away last month. The Oxygene siblings (five now have college degrees) came together in Roanoke to grieve for her and to remember her wonderful legacy. Before passing, she told Shicoy that he was the head of family now, and charged him with regularly checking in on his sisters. We know she left them in good hands