Nov. 11, 2016
Kevin Griffen Sr., a proud husband, father and now leader in the
community, has seen and experienced a lot.
Growing up in less than ideal circumstances due to drugs and violence,
Griffen developed the courage and perseverance he lacked through phenomenal
leadership within IPS and his community.
We at IPS are proud to recognize Griffen, a Northwest Community High School
alum (Class of 1993), as he reflects on his road to glory, his time as an IPS
student, and how his life experiences have led him to turn his life around to become
a youth advocate.
Early life in
I was raised on the westside of Indianapolis. My mother, who was a
single parent, raised my sister and me.
Initially, I attended Flanner House Elementary School, then Holy Angels Catholic
School for two years. After Holy Angels, I attended several other elementary
schools in the IPS district due to bussing. I’ve attended Schools 96, 67, 79
and 107. There were different school bussing boundaries each year. Through this
change, it allowed me to meet new people.
Approaching middle school I went to
Crispus Attucks, which I was very proud to attend because of the school’s legacy.
For high school, I attended Northwest Community High School.
One thing I really enjoyed while growing up was having my same friends
from my neighborhood. Though I went to different schools, I grew up with the
same four friends. We called ourselves the Four Horsemen, and were close like
Your experience at Northwest
Entering high school, I had no motivation. I was involved heavily in the
streets. I didn’t make the best grades and I didn’t see myself progressing.
However, when I was introduced to the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC)
program at age 15, my life began to change for the better.
I enjoyed JROTC and was an active member. I was a Sergeant Major and Captain
of the marksmanship team. At the time, I was one of the best in the JROTC
program, which motivated me to do well because I knew I had to keep a good
profile in order to remain captain of my team.
I worked hard my entire upper classman experience. I managed to focus
and overcome a difficult time in my life. I mounted from having less credits
needed to graduate my junior year to graduating on time at the end of my senior
year. I was able to defeat the odds. I want the youth today to see that you can
come from the bottom and still overcome, and that you can go through challenges
and still rise – still turn your life around.
My IPS education prepared
me for …
My IPS education prepared me for the life I live now. Definitely my
experience in JROTC prepared me for the military.
Fondest IPS memory
as a student…
My experience in JROTC was a fond memory. The program had a major impact
on my life. JROTC exposed me to another life – a life outside of trouble. I had
the opportunity to compete at Purdue University, where I was ranked in the top
20 out of 150 competitors for my skills.
Additionally, I had the best role model in the JROTC program, Sergeant
Squires. Though I was going through a trying time in my life, Sergeant Squires
assured that I maintained focus and pushed me to keep doing well. Sergeant
Squires was like a father to me. He not only encouraged me, he and the JROTC
program became the highlight and one of the turning points in my life.
Aside from the JROTC at Northwest, being able to attend Crispus Attucks
was a fond memory. Attucks was a middle school when I attend. Not only was I pleased
to have experienced the phenomenal history attending the school, but I remember
feeling prideful knowing that both of my parents and grandparents went to
Attucks. The history and legacy is phenomenal.
Your life since
Everything fell into place in my life as it should have, and it has been
a beautiful progress.
After all of the adversity I’ve experienced in my youth, including the death
of my dad and best friend to violence, I have managed to overcome.
I have been blessed to serve in the Army National Guard for eight years.
I served in Germany and Afghanistan, and appreciate the opportunity to see different
countries. I remember crying when I first landed in Germany, because I never
thought I would be able to travel to another country. There I was, a kid from a
rough childhood now traveling the world.
Currently, I am a firefighter at the Indianapolis Fire Department
Station 30. I am honored to be the engineer on my shift and to have the responsibility
of driving the fire truck. I never thought I would be in career that I love. I
truly enjoy being a fireman and serving others.
My family. I am proud of my marriage and my three beautiful children.
I always knew I was going to marry my wife, Tiffany. We have been
married for 15 years and have three beautiful children. My oldest Kevin, 21, attends
Wabash College. My middle child Corey, 18, and youngest Kendall, 14, both
attend Brownsburg High School. I am very grateful for my family.
In addition, I am proud of my careers. I will always be proud of serving
in the Army National Guard. After years of service, I was promoted to the rank
of Sergeant. I am also proud of becoming a firefighter and will be celebrating
my 10-year anniversary in March.
Above all, I am most grateful for making my mother and grandmother
proud. I know they feel overjoyed to see my growth. Knowing that I persevered
is pure bliss and I feel overwhelmed with joy to see them express my testimony
and how proud they are of me; it makes me feel honored.
I like to keep busy. Most of my hobbies consist of going to the gun
range, looking at old cars and traveling. Of all the places I’ve been, Italy
was my favorite. My goal is to travel to Fiji one day.
Though I have many interests and hobbies, I really enjoy staying active
in the community and reaching out to the youth. I am a board member at the
Fathers and Family Center. The center played a major role in my life. I believe
that a lot has been sacrificed in my life for me to tell my story and pay it
forward to save another youth.
My dream is to continue to travel and have success. I truly want to
continue to build, so that I can eventually enjoy the fruits of my labor.
My vision would be to start investing more in our kids. The kids are our
future; let’s continue to highlight the positive things they are doing and
develop more positive role models amongst their peers.
Final Quote …
After all I’ve been through, my testimony is: “No God. No Life. Know
God. Know Life.” In the end, I want the youth to know that it’s never too late
– that they can always turn their life around for the better. I want them to
never give up.