Santiago was a shy, and somewhat insecure, senior at Spring Brook High School in Maryland. He was a little unsure of himself and his ideas but with the guidance of his teacher, Lynn Nelson, and the H&M drug free t-shirt slogan contest he took a chance and entered the slogan that motivated him.

29 May 2014 | News

Since having his “Success is My Addiction” slogan chosen as the 2013 winner Santiago has been honored at the House of Sweden and an awards celebration at Spring Brook High School with 400 of his peers. He has been given a proclamation from the city council and has been featured in interviews on ABC 8, Radio America and Telemundo.  His “Success is My Addiction” T-Shirt has gone on to sell out nationwide through H&M’s online stores with proceeds benefitting Mentor Foundation USA.

In November we reached out to his teacher to inform her that we had chosen Santiago’s slogan as the 2013 winner. She was beyond excited and said to us that this will impact Santiago more than we know. Later that night we spoke with Santiago’s mother and sister to inform them we had chosen Santiago and to ensure we had everything in line. This was a great experience as we could hear the excitement from him and his family.

Santiago has become a leader  and motivates his peers to believe in themselves. In the fall he will continue his success and will be following his dream of studying to become a physical therapist. When Santiago walks into a room he holds his head with confidence and when he shakes your hand he looks you in the eye. This is quite a difference from the shy young student we met just 6 months ago.

Thanks to Telemundo we were able to give Santiago and his family an additional surprise with an interview on the regional news celebrating Santiago and his message. It was a pleasure to watch his mother’s reaction and see the smile on her face when we entered the Telemundo studios. Watching her light up when taking Santiago’s picture with the reporters is priceless. He is a great young man and deserves the spotlight.

Santiago sent Mentor Foundation USA a message to say what the competition has meant to him: ” Winning this contest made me believe in myself, it has helped me know what I want to do in life. I want to motivate others to believe in themselves.”

Mentor Foundation USA and H&M partner in this contest so that we can empower students to advocate for prevention and motivate their peers. It has allowed us to reach over 200,000 youth and when we can see transformations like Santiago’s take place it motivates us to continue spreading the message.

Thank you H&M for helping us reach so many youth and thank you Santiago for your dedication and commitment to a drug free and positive life!