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When Jonathan Nivar was 6 years old, he watched his father get stabbed to death. Now 24, Jonathan is on his way to becoming a counselor to help children who’ve experienced their own trauma or are simply looking for a hand as they make their way through the world.

Jonathan got a much-needed hand while in high school, where he watched his older brother Victor graduate and head to college as one of the first BEST scholarship recipients. Jonathan followed his brother’s lead and helped realize their mother’s dream that all her children go to college.

“I wanted to go to college, but I wasn’t sure what to do,’’ Jonathan recalls. “After talking with Victor and other BEST graduates, I realized I could do it.”

Jonathan graduated from Kutztown University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in criminal justice and is working at a market research corporation, saving money to continue his education. “Ultimately, I would like to return to school and become a counselor to help people,” he says. “I’ve worked hard to get where I am today, and I can help others work on their own issues and succeed as well.”

BEST helped Jonathan set priorities and manage his time—including college classes, homework, school activities and two part-time jobs. “It was because of BEST that I could become a better student, a better person and a more well-rounded young man,” he says.

“Billy, Judy, Linny, everyone at BEST helped guide me. They provided me with mentors, checked in on me regularly,” he says. “Even today, I am never alone. There is always someone making sure I am on the right path. I honestly don’t think I would have done as well academically without the support. I thank them every day.”

Billy Staples, though, knows Jonathan played an important role in his own formation.

“I knew Jonathan at age 6 and watched him grow and mature,” Billy says. “He gets joy from helping his mother. He is kind and conscientious and gives back because he wants to and not because he feels obligated to.”

Jonathan volunteers with BEST doing outreach, continuing the legacy of helping students become the BEST they can be.

“I always had a passion for helping people,” Jonathan says. “If I go to sleep at night knowing I helped one person breathe easier, my goal for the day has been accomplished.”

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