Hardin-Simmons Alumnus Returns to Campus for Book Reading
(ABILENE, Texas)–Ten years after graduating from Hardin-Simmons with a degree in business, Roy Juarez returned to campus for a book reading of his recently published autobiography, Homeless by Choice. Juarez names his book after recent speaking tour where he traveled the country speaking at places such as schools and churches, sharing his life story, teaching kids how important education is and that they, too, can achieve anything they want in life.
Juarez’ read several chapters from his book and then followed up with extra content for those who hadn’t read the book, sometimes adding information that is not included in the book. Throughout the presentation, Juarez frequently engaged the audience and answered questions. With several people attending who were mentioned in the book, Juarez always looked at the person with a smile when reading their part of the story.
Due to domestic violence, Juarez grew up living on the streets of San Antonio. At 17 years old, Juarez was looking for a meal when he stumbled across several women gathered in a conference hall filled with food. His intentions were just to look as though he was part of the crowd while he received a free meal. Instead, he heard Retired Lt. Col. Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch speak the words that would inspire him to change his life forever.
After realizing that Lt. Col. Kickbusch grew up in a similar situation as Juarez, a poor minority in a big city, he realized that if she was able to make a great life for herself using the “why not me?” mentality, then he could too. Juarez decided to pick up his baby brother, “Baby Ray” from his mother’s friend who had agreed to take care of him until his mother was stable enough to take care of him again. Juarez then took “Baby Ray” to their pastor’s house where they both lived until graduating high school.
Juarez began school at HSU in 2005, seeking a business degree. After his first year had passed, he was advised to pack his dorm room due to being $5,000 short on tuition. Upon receiving the news, he marched right to President Craig Turner’s office and begged for help.
“I can’t go. I need to be educated! Don’t you see? This is my last chance,” Juarez pleaded.
Turner replied by finding him the full $5,000.
The birth of the tour
After graduation, Juarez worked for Lt. Kickbusch for several months doing various projects for her company. One day, she advised him he could only work for her company for three more months. It was during the first month after this conversation when he realized his purpose in life.
Juarez had moved from Texas to Nevada to work for Lt. Kickbusch. He barely owned any furniture when he moved in with a friend and was terrified to tell anyone he was fired and had no plans moving forward. He continued to persevere, and while sleeping on his friend’s couch, he had a dream showing him what he needed to do.
In the dream, Juarez saw a large arena with hundreds of people bouncing colorful balloons across the room. Before waking up, he saw a full band on stage playing with red, blue, green, and purple lights flashing and people singing, “Come on in, come on in, together we can make a difference.” That dream is what inspired Juarez at 4:30 a.m. to rush out with immediacy and begin planning for his tour.
At the time, Juarez was not aware he would make such a strong impact on so many kids across America. He struggled with high school, college, and even getting a meal some days. He doubted himself constantly but continued to have faith that God would help him do what He was called to do.
“I just kept telling myself, ‘You have to faith it ‘til you make it.’” said Juarez.
To learn more about Roy Juarez Jr. and his Homeless by Choice tour, go to his website.