24-year-old New Jersey native, Lambda School alum shares journey from homelessness to homeowner

WILLIAMSTOWN, New Jersey (WPVI) -- You may have seen a viral story shared Tuesday by a New Jersey native who overcame many odds.

From homelessness to homeowner at the age of 24, software engineer Christopher Atoki says, it may not be how your journey starts, but all in how you finish.

"Living in my car it was one specific day I'll never forget," said Atoki. "I was parked in front of a Walmart, it was cold in the middle of December right before my birthday. I had less than a dollar in my account, I had almost this revelation that I don't want to be where I'm at."

In 2016, faced with many challenges, Christopher says his mother's advice helped him through very difficult times to pursue his dream goal.

One thing that my mom always said, more times than anything she's ever said, was that you are the master of your own destiny," said Atoki.

Atoki says he took that advice to heart and internalized it.

With as little as a phone and a car to his name, Christopher took heed to his mother's advice and pursued his dream in technology.

"From my car, the next day or the day after, I went to the library and applied for every job," said Atoki. "I went on Indeed, Zip Recruiter, Monster any job that was hiring I was pressing apply."

After hundreds of application submissions, Christopher finally got an offer from a temp agency to work in a warehouse.

He was able to then save enough funds for an apartment, which later lead to bigger and better things.

"I had to drop out of college, unfortunately, but I still wanted to get into tech," said Atoki.

That's when Christopher found the Lambda School, a six-month tech training program who's motto says it doesn't charge anything until you land a high paying job. But still, Christopher overcame obstacles.

"We didn't have WiFi at my apartment I eventually got," said Atoki. "And I didn't have WiFi at the store I was working at so I used my hotspot on my phone. But I was able to do my classes."

For six months Atoki says he studied hard to prepare for a hopeful opportunity in the career he destined to be in. After graduating from the program, Christopher finally got his call.

For a year, Christopher has been a part of the Comcast team in Philadelphia working as a front end engineer.

Faced with trials and tribulations, Christopher hopes his journey will inspire someone else with similar circumstances, to simply, keep going.

"Make smart decisions," said Atoki. "People say you either go forward or you go back, you don't standstill. That's true for every single day."
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