My name is Alexander Avak, I was born at St. Mary’s hospital 22 years ago and have called Long Beach my home ever since. All of my earliest memories are of Long Beach when my mom would take me to the pride parade, the Ice Dogs hockey games or the beach every Sunday. One of the most heartbreaking days I can remember is when my mom told me we were moving, I remember always wanting to come back. We moved out of a sober living in Long Beach and got our own apartment when I was 5 , after a couple of years my mom had relapsed and we were homeless for a while. When my mom finally decided to get sober again we moved back to the Substance Abuse Foundation on 7th and Obispo where we shared rooms with other people in recovery throughout highschool. Once I turned 18 they said we would have to leave since I was too old to stay there, my mom went back and fought to get back her nursing license and now works at the same rehabilitation center that took us in. I graduated from Wilson High School and went to Long Beach City College to eventually transfer to CSULB for Audio Technology but in the process of taking electives I ended up taking as many arts classes that I could where I eventually gained a love for ceramics and the arts in general. I have always been creating music and this was my first step into physical media. I remember taking screen-printing, photography, ceramics, metalwork/jewelry, and finding myself completely lost with where I wanted to go in life, I never had very good role models so even going to college felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. During this time I would stay late talking to my ceramics professor Gerardo Moterrubio where I would tell him how lost I felt and that my biggest goal would be to afford my own apartment in Long Beach by making art or music. I will never forget what Gerardo said when we got to talking about our love for art and whether I should go to a UC to study art, “as long as I can afford a pen and paper, I will always be able to create art”. What he said changed my entire perspective on art school and realized that true art comes from the soul, it should tell a story and hold virtuous morals. I then realized that I I did not need somebody to teach me how to make art, I just needed to make art. I could go on and on but my main point is that I hope to repay Long Beach and my community for being a solid anchor in my family whether it be through art or community work. Thank you for your time and I hope we can work together soon.