"If I had to summarize it just to put it in words, it's never too late."
That's the message former gang member DJ Batiste gave a group of about 40 student teachers at MSU Meridian Friday morning.
The felon turned college student had numerous run ins with the law growing up. He attributes his actions to his need of attention, and one of his high school teachers was able to use that need to help turn his life around.
"Throughout my whole life, teachers used the fear based model on me; fear based, fear based, and to a student who's not afraid of anything, the fear based model doesn't work, so it took that love based model which I wasn't used to, to turn me around."
He spoke about a classroom management method called "Conscious Discipline", which uses everyday events as the curriculum.
Batiste says that Conscious Discipline helped him think of school as a place to learn, instead of just somewhere that he can see his friends and cause trouble.
"We want to try to get them to the highest centers of their brain, to their highest peak, so they're able to learn."
21-year-old Batiste is currently enrolled at Pearl River Community College, where he is completing his core requirements and studying Oral Communication. He also travels around the country telling his story to teachers and administrators. While he isn't sure exactly what his future holds, he knows that continuing to share his experiences will be a part of it.
"I just want to be a motivational speaker, that's where I want to end, and that's where I want the story to end, a motivational speaker, to say I inspired more people than I could ever think of, you know this is a ripple effect."