Jeff Walker remembers the hunger.
“When I was hungry and had a long day of job hunting and going to school” he recalled. “Hunger is such a downer, and it makes situations feel so much worse than they really are.”
It’s a feeling that dogged Walker for days at a time when he was a City College student 2 years ago.
He had returned to San Diego to study, but lacking a job left him homeless and at times hungry.
But for several weeks during fall semester 2009 he was struggling to find a job and a place to live, all while trying to get through his courses.
Experts say there are around 9,000 homeless people in San Diego county, many of which are downtown alone sleeping in places like under B Street bridge.
When speaking with Walker you would never think that at one point in his life he was forced to sleep on couches, floors, and in the worst case scenario his car under the highway on B street right across from the campus.
He moved back to San Diego from his mothers house in northern Oregon with hopes of attending San Diego State University, but first he needed to complete a semester at City college before he could be admitted.
At the time of his arrival he had no job, no home, and little money to live off. He attended classes all day and searched for jobs after school. Walker explained “I kept my clothes in the trunk (of my car), and had a folder full of resumes.”
He knew if things got to bad he could make a phone call to family members and ask them for some assistance, but that was the last thing he wanted.
“I have always believed that as long as I was alive and healthy I was better off than so many people in this world, so everything else was just extra,” Walker said.
Today, Walker, age 27, has transferred from City College to San Diego State, and has recently been accepted to a few lawschools and is trying to decide which is best for him. He is working in real estate and lives in a nice apartment downtown.
Like Walker, there are students facing these same hardships everyday at City College.
Sgt. Jordan Mirakian of the San Diego City College Police Department believes some homeless may even enroll in a minimum of one class so they have access to the facilities, health care, and Learning Resource Center.
Julie Tunnell, accounting professor at City College, was Walker’s professor during this period of his life.
“I remember Jeff as a very intelligent young man with strong analytical skills. He did very well on his exams and papers,”Tunnel said.
“Jeff was fairly quiet and soft-spoken, so to learn after the fact that he was facing such tremendous challenges while studying at City College is amazing. I am truly awe-inspired to think of all that he accomplished in spite of his extremely difficult living situation. Jeff’s story is incredible and can and does happen at City College,” Tunnell added.
Walker realizes that there are many people out there who have had similar obstacles and much worse, and that many are still in those situations.
“My goal would be for everyone to realize that no matter what you want to do in life is possible.” Walker said. “Negativity will get you nowhere in life … You never know who is having a low time in their life … My advice is to treat everyone as if they have had struggles in their life just like you, because I bet you they have.”Once Walker knew that he had some money coming in he borrowed some money from a friend and moved into a place of his own. Walker described it as the highest point throughout the ordeal.
“I got a good laugh when I looked at my closet and thought back to a few weeks before when those same clothes were crammed in my trunk. I realized that I had changed my whole situation from my sole perseverance and determination,” Walker said. “It feels good to see what you are made of as a person and overcome obstacles that seem almost impossible”.