Jean’s Journey

A true story of how a life can turn from murder, homelessness and hopelessness, to hope and happiness.

I often get asked why I’m so driven.

“Why do you get up at 4:30am every day?”
“What’s your WHY?”

People like Jean are my WHY. Read his story below and you’ll understand.

Warning: There are graphic details and some of the story is pretty tough to read. I’ve published the entire unedited email, with Jean’s permission.

Jean — one of my heroes.

Jean Arroyo aka The Dreaded Dev

Hey Ryan,

As promised here is my story of success thanks to the awesome entity you created called Team Treehouse.

My name is Jean Arroyo I’m a 29 year old newly minted Frontend Developer. I live in Tampa Florida and work now for a huge tech company in Silicon Valley. I work from home remotely and make a great salary. Overall life is a dream come true. But it wasn’t always that awesome and good.

I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Most people do not know but that’s a real hard place to grow up. The amount of crime, drugs and overall corruption makes it hard for anyone to succeed much less earn a respectable income. Ryan I’m from a place where even your family wants to see you fail.

I grew up poor obviously and never really had much growing up. I was the kid who wore handme down clothing and played with other kids toys that they would throw away. My dad was an alcoholic that used to beat me and my mom for fun while he made my little brother watch sometimes. I really don’t blame him he was young and not right in the head.

Life was rough and always had been for me. I never got bullied at school but I never had any friends either I was the weird guy. My dad ended up leaving my mom for another women and moved to the states to start his own family while his original family sat in misery, forgotten.

I was raised by a single mother from there on out. She raised 3 boys by herself while working many jobs to make ends meet and even then she never could pay all the bills. There were times where we had to choose between having electric or water cause both was not possible.

Things were hard after my dad left but at least the beatings stopped and I didn’t hear my mom cry anymore. I would still hear cry late at night but that was cause she couldn’t make ends meet. Couple of years later right around 1997–1998 a category 4 Hurricane hit Puerto Rico.

My house was literally destroyed around me. The roof blew off our small home and everything we had (however little it was) was literally scattered to the wind. My life was destroyed after that and I literally saw no hope. The island didn’t have power for over 3 months and hardly had running water. I remember a couple of weeks after the hurricane passed going outside to play with my brother and smelling nothing but rotting food. Everyone’s trash was over filling and since no one had power the food went bad.

The stench was horrible at first but after a couple days it became normal sadly. Things did get a little better as the months went on and the power came back but one day it all went to hell for a lack of a better word.

My mom’s boyfriend at the time took her out on a date. My mom never came back from that date Ryan. Her boyfriend was upset she was pregnant so he beat her, then shot her 9 times in the stomach (she was 8 months pregnant) then dumped her body in a forest. He then went back to his hotel room, had dinner, took a shower, then went to bed. He called the cops on himself next morning after break fast and told them where the body was.

I found out the next day by watching the news and seeing my mom’s body being dragged out of a forest…

Things got really hard as we now had to live with my grandmother who was 70+ years old at the time. So I had to grow up at the age of 11 to take care of my grandmother, and my two baby brothers. Things were hard for a really long time after that Ryan. I remember always being hungry.

In 1999 I moved to Florida with my stranger of a father and have been here ever since. He was still abusive so I put with physical abuse till I was 17 years old and left his house. I became homeless for a while but managed to make it for myself for a really long time.

Fast forward to a couple years ago for the sake of not going on forever. And I found myself homeless yet again and suffering from severe depression and anxiety. At that point I had tried to commit suicide 2 times. I’m happy I failed both times Ryan.

I knew I had to do something, I was tired of being homeless and tired of being hungry, cold, hot, sad and lonely. I met a girl around those times and she was able to see passed me being homeless and my physical appearance ( I looked an smelled horrible then) she told me I could do anything I want and let me borrow her laptop so I could teach myself code and become the person I am today.

I was homeless and only had $75 to my name when I found about team Treehouse through a guy known as Chris Sean. Knowing I had to make a change I did the 7 free trial and loved the Frontend Development track. The way I was using my laptop was by going to Starbucks as soon as they opened and staying till they closed late at night. They had free WiFi and free water and a bathroom I could use. So for 8–9 hours a day I would code and do team Treehouse.

After two months of doing that I got threw about half way through the Frontend Development track. I felt like I knew enough to apply at jobs. I had some projects under my belt thanks to the knowledge gained in the Frontend Development track. So I started applying at literally every job on Indeed in my area. When I say every job mean every job listed haha even the ones that required 5+ years of experience. I didn’t care as long as someone gave me a small chance I knew I would make the best of it.

After a couple of weeks of applying I got a phone call from a small agency in my area who wanted to interview me for a jr Frontend Developer position with a little design as well. (I taught myself Photoshop while learning code as well to be more marketable)

I showed up to the interview in my best clothing is could find and Ryan I nailed it. I was able to get hired on the spot and started the following Monday. I was so happy when I got that job Ryan like so happy.

I worked there for about 4–6 months before they went out of business and I was let go. During those 4–6 months I was able to get myself out of being homeless and into my in apartment. I finally had a bed and fridge full of food. Hell even having a bathroom to use was nice. I was unemployed for about 2 months before I landed the job I am at now.

The job now pays double what my first did and carries benefits and all the jazz that comes with working a big tech company in Silicon Valley. Ryan I don’t worry about money anymore. Like ever at all. It never is an issue anymore and going back to being homeless will never happen again thanks to the skills and knowledge I gained from Team Treehouse.

The story goes a bit deeper than this but hopefully you feel like this can inspire anyone to give learning code a chance. I’m nothing special as you can see from reading all this. I have a GED and I’m a high school dropout that tried to kill himself twice. I’m also kind of orphan that has been through hell and back about 4 times.

The point is if I can do it then anybody can right?

Thank you from reading this, I look forward to hearing back from you man your a big inspiration and a role model.

From the heart Ryan, thank you. Changing my life by creating Team Treehouse…you literally saved my life.

Thank you!