Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

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    Athlete sacrifices housing for education-Laney football player resides in ‘Tiny Home’ so he can…

    Photos and Article by Laney Co-Editor Michelle Snider

    Armani Tuner-Jenkins looks forward to his future as he navigates away from dead-end jobs and living pay-check to pay-check towards full-filling his dreams.

    When resources are not available to young college students, prioritizing education over housing can be a difficult choice. For Laney College football player Armani Turner-Jenkins, his choice was between basic comforts and achieving his long-term goals.

    Turner-Jenkins has spent much of his 21 years of life pursuing football as a means to obtain a scholarship. He has a passion for football, but he does not play just for fun.

    He says he understands that there are limited choices for him to pursue a four-year college degree without scholarships, and football is something he does very well.

    Last season, the Eagles linebacker led the State Championship team with 61 solo tackles and 33 assists. He also had eight sacks and one interception for 49 yards.

    Football has taught Turner-Jenkins valuable lessons in life and given him a path forward in building a strong character, drive, humility, and problem-solving.

    Football has kept me on track. It keeps me away from the streets. Football transfers to life so much,” he said.

    In addition, the sport has taught him how to work with people and how to understand them better.

    Most of his life, Turner-Jenkins has lived in the Bay Area, between Berkeley and Richmond. He played football for Berkeley High and hoped to get scholarships, but said the Berkeley football team does not usually play well enough to get noticed by recruiters.

    After not securing a football scholarship to get into a four-year college, Jenkins went to Laney as a cheaper educational option to avoid student debt.

    In his first year, Turner-Jenkins worked 30-plus hours, maintained a full class schedule and attended football practice and games. By his second semester, he realized he could not keep up with his school work.

    Turner-Jenkins felt that he had two choices — focus on working full time to pay rent, or focus on his future. He was ready to sacrifice secure housing to pursue academics in social sciences and communications.

    Being like a robot, working 9–5 and getting just enough to survive, was not the wiser choice, he decided. “What was I put on this earth to do? I got a passion, I got a goal, I’m a human,” Turner-Jenkins said. “There has to be something special about myself — work will make you feel like you’re going in circles. There’s nothing there for you. Especially if you are a minority. It’s not made for us.”

    Once he decided to focus on school full time, he was kicked out of the home he was staying in. When it was time to move, he didn’t have a place to go because he did not get along with his mom, he said.

    There were times Turner-Jenkins would go to class and football practice and he would feel fine, but once he left practice, reality would hit. He had to find a place to stay for the night.

    “That ‘what’s next’ is the hardest,” Turner-Jenkins said, “because you don’t really have an answer. So you just keep moving.”

    Eventually, he moved in with his godparents until he could get into an emergency shelter. Turner-Jenkins was placed in a tiny home in the Lower Bottoms, near West Oakland BART station that was provided by a church.

    Shootings occur almost every night, he said, and he fears bullets will go through the tiny home. Despite that, he said he is thankful to have a place to sleep every night so he can focus on school.

    Now that he is in a tiny home he feels more accountable and shows up to class more. He feels decently happy. There are little things that still bother him, like not having a washer or dryer and having enough hot water to take showers, but a roof and a door are all he needs. It is better than being on someone else’s couch, he said.

    “Last week I wasn’t even coming to class because I was like, man I don’t want to go to class, because I didn’t have clean clothes,” Turner-Jenkins said. “There’s a lot of things going on with me being a student that brings a lot of insecurities.”

    In West Oakland his choices for food are limited to whatever liquor stores, fast food and one Chinese restaurant provides. To him, none of these choices are good and all of them are pricey because no one has anywhere else to go for food, water and juice.

    If everyone received an education that teaches a better understanding of society, history, culture and perspective from every part of the world, Turner-Jenkins said, our society would have a better understanding of their biases.

    “We live in a world of fantasy because we lack a reality,” he said. ”The reality is, we lack in knowledge, so we are biased toward each other.”

    Linebacker Armani Turner-Jenkins #9

    Last season, the Eagles linebacker led the State Championship team with 61 solo tackles and 33 assists. He also had eight sacks and one interception for 49 yards.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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