PHOENIX (KSAZ) - From years of drug addiction, to attending college classes all for free. That is what one 23-year-old man is doing at Grand Canyon University.
Jesse Dallariva used to be homeless and addicted to heroin; now he has a second chance.
"I stayed under a bridge in downtown Phoenix for about a year, sleeping in the rain, sleeping in the hot sun, walking the streets all day, walking the streets until my feet bled," said Jessica Dallariva.
After spending time in jail and getting hooked on hardcore drugs, he eventually had nothing left. That's when he decided to get sober with the help of the Phoenix Rescue Mission.
"They preached the forgiveness that was within Jesus, and I found a new way of looking at life, a new perspective on life, a new purpose for my life," said Dallariva.
After completing the program, he learned about a contest he could enter through the mission, by writing an essay. Participating in the contest would offer him a chance to attend Grand Canyon University without paying a penny.
"The essay was based upon our goals in life, what we want to do with our life, why we think we should be accepted to our testimony, how we plan on staying connected to recovery," said Dallariva.
His heartfelt essay won the contest, and he's the first to get a four-year scholarship to GCU. The scholarship renews itself each year as long as he stays on track.
"I'm shocked, I'm surprised, I can't believe that someone like me that's made the choices I've made can be given an opportunity like this, and I'm going to take full advantage and walk in humility and gratefulness," said Dallariva.
He hopes to one day become a counselor.
The scholarship was provided by a partnership between GCU and the Phoenix Rescue Mission.