Julie Tam, NBCDFW.com
Marcus Alvarez is one of 11 North Texas teenagers to win an award for making a difference in the community. They each won paid summer internships at local nonprofit organizations and a trip to Washington, D.C.
Marcus Alvarez's father was in and out of jail much of the teen's life, leaving only his mother to raise him.
But even a tumultous childhood didn't deter Alvarez, 17, from success. He is one of 11 North Texas teenagers to win an award for making a difference in the community. They each won paid summer internships at local nonprofit organizations and a trip to Washington, D.C.
Alvarez has something in common with many of the children he's helping at the summer camp at St. Philip's School & Community Center in Dallas.
"I can understand what they're going through. Sometimes you just need that extra hand to keep you going," said Alvarez.
Some of the students grew up much like Alvarez. When you see the 17-year-old smile, as he helps in the classroom, you'd never know he's spent much of his childhood watching his father get arrested several times and his mother work long hours to raise the family's four children in Irving.
"When I saw her coming in at 10 in the night, I knew I had to take honor as the oldest brother of three sisters. And I would tuck them in at night and just go finish my homework after that and just think about my mom and just go work the extra mile," said Alvarez.
That extra mile has taken the Nimitz High School senior to the top of his class. He's the first person in his family who will go to college.
Bank of America is sponsoring his summer internship as part of his award for volunteering so many hours in the community.
"He wasn't looking at kind of changing the world at the top. He was looking right there within his family. He said, we've been through some hardship, and I can change my family first, and then I'll look outside," said Aleta Stampley, Bank of America community relations manager.
To support his family, Alvarez started his own business playing the piano at weddings and other events. And he does plan to change the world, starting with the smallest ones around him.
Alvarez said he wants to attend a top college and pursue a career in entertainment law or directing music videos.