Majestyn Garcia was a young man who had all the odds against him, and one bad choice turned him into a convicted felon . But, there is a happy ending to Garcia's story. He was able to put his past behind him so he can serve in the military.
It is an incredible story of courage and determination. Garcia is one step closer to joining the Marines, thanks, in part, to the people who believed in him.
It was supposed to be a senior prank. The beloved bear mascot at Arvin High School was covered in white spray paint. Obscene pictures and words covered the school campus.
"I was a foolish little kid," said Majestyn Garcia.
The artwork not only damaged the school, it damaged Garcia's record. He was convicted of a felony and expelled. "I know I did something bad, but I decided to change." explained Garcia.
Growing up as the middle child of 17 brothers and sisters, Garcia was surrounded by gangs and drugs. By high school, he says he was in with the wrong crowd.
After he was banned from Arvin High School, Garcia enrolled at the Community Learning Center in Bakersfield. The facility is 24 miles from Garcia's home in Arvin.
Back in February, Garcia talked to 17 News about his determination to graduate. "I did whatever it took. I took the buses in the morning. One time I knew I wasn't going to make it so I actually rode a bike to Bakersfield and got there and got to school," he explained.
But, Garcia's felony conviction prevented him from becoming a Marine. Garcia reached out to State Senator Michael Rubio.
"He was desperate. He was unwilling to quit and he said I will do whatever it takes to get to the Marine Corps," said Leticia Perez, District Coordinator for Senator Rubio.
Senator Rubio paid from his own pocket, the $2,000 Garcia owed for the damages at Arvin High School. "Even though a person has made a mistake, it doesn't mean that it should determine the rest of their life. When you work hard, good things do happen," explained Perez.
But, Garcia's record still prevented him from enlisting in the military. Bakersfield Attorney Bobby Cloud offered his services free of charge. "The purpose of our judicial system is not to punish people, it's to rehabilitate," said Cloud.
After ten long months, Garcia received the life changing verdict he was hoping for. "It was awesome. I was fidgeting and my attorney hits me and I was like what's happening?" said Garcia.
A judge at the Juvenile Court agreed to take Garcia off probation and reduce his felony conviction to a misdemeanor and then expunge it from his record. "Best relief of my life. it felt amazing," noted Garcia.
"I do this all the time, and I don't get that feeling of accomplishing something every day," said Cloud.
"I didn't think it was going to happen. It was a one step at a time process," explained Garcia.
Garcia is on the next step of his journey. "I'm going to do what I can to change the world," he said.
He wants to become one of the few, the proud. "The Marine Corps is basically the ultimate sacrifice," he continued.
Garcia is studying for a military pre-qualification test to enlist. If he passes, he will go to Marine Corps boot camp in San Diego.