Two decades ago, a teacher in Los Angeles inspired students to overcome violence and hardships of rioting and poverty by writing in journals.
They became known as Freedom Writers and today one of them spoke to Indianapolis Public School students.
Tiffony Jacobs spent nights as a teenager sleeping in alleys, wondering where her next meal would come from.
When she had a roof over her head it was marred by violence.
But, she says the lessons learned through Erin Gruwell’s class helped her rise above the struggles.
"It's so cathartic," Jacobs said of writing. "It releases so much pent up energy. It allows you to think before you speak. It allowed you to form your thoughts and be more confident in your conversations."
Jacobs writes every day and is now the Freedom Writer Outreach Coordinator which has 149 members. She encourages young people to use writing as a way to create a better future.
"Writing is immortal. Once you put stuff down on paper, it's there for the world forever and you want that to represent you in the fullest capacity," she said.
Jacobs spoke to an auditorium of high school students at Crispus Attucks High School, giving about an hour presentation and answering their questions.
"I just want them to grow up to be strong, powerful, positive young men and want women to learn to be ladies and respect themselves and to know that they can have it all, have a career and family if they choose," she said. "And, let go of negative things that are hindering that possibility."