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Young Abilene man turns his life around with help from his youth minister

Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:30:25 AM CST
Updated On: Sep 25 2013 12:32:55 PM CDT
ABILENE, Texas -

According to the United States Census Bureau only 80 percent of Texans over 25 years old have a high school diploma or the equivalent and that’s the worst in the U.S.

Romeo Snyder is going to graduate from high school this December. He is planning to attend Abilene Christian University and has dreams for his future, but just six years ago that was not the case.

"As long as I didn't have to go to school and I got the drugs that I wanted and I got to hang out with the people that I wanted I didn't really care. So my life wasn't really going anywhere," Romeo said. 

Romeo’s parents weren't around to watch him stumble through life.

"My dad, when I was four, he killed my baby brother and then my mom she just got into drugs really heavily and so there was never really any supervision. I just did what I wanted to," said Romeo.

When he was 12 years old Romeo started attending youth group at the Freedom Fellowship.

That’s where he met Zach Snyder, a youth minister who changed Romeo’s life.

"He was getting in trouble a lot and was failing pretty much everything and was about to repeat the sixth grade for the third time," said Zach.

"I knew I was going to drop out because I didn't really care," Romeo added.

After meeting Zach, Romeo left the gang life and stopped dealing drugs. He moved in with 21 year old Zach soon after.

"At first it was a struggle for both of them, but then Romeo realized this is a good place, this is a safe place, this is where I can really blossom. He settled in and it's just been amazing to watch ever since," said Jennifer Raney. Raney is the former principal at Madison Middle School where Romeo attended school.

"If I hadn't met Zach or made some of the choices that I did I would be dead right now or in prison," said Romeo.

The now 19-year old is a success story and one those who know him love to tell.

"I was blind to have the negative things in my life were actually hurting me... Now I see where I need to be going now I see what I can do."

Romeo changed his last name to Snyder in May. The same last name as his former legal guardian.