Breaking the colonial shackles

How an UnidosUS Líderes Con Alas fellow found a life mission in dark times

Matt Hinojosa | Lideres con Alas | UnidosUS | latino youth leaders

Matt Hinojosa Photo: Lupito’s Photography

By John Marth, Senior Content Specialist

Most people try to hide from the San Antonio sun, but Matt Hinojosa found something special in the scorching heat.

“I could feel myself getting close to this transcendental force just by being outside and working on the land,” he says. He was doing landscaping full-time and found a few hidden benefits no one told him about. “I could drink all day,” he says, “just detoxing and sweating in the sun.”

“It felt good, but at the same time, that was when I was deepest in my addiction.”

He was taking a few semesters off from college to save for tuition and a car, and to pay off fines from drug and alcohol charges.

Matt had been drinking and using drugs since he was a teenager, and it was affecting every part of his life. By the time he started landscaping, he’d dropped out of two different colleges, been arrested, and was losing hope.

“I was in a really dark place in my life. I didn’t have much to be proud of.”

Not long after, another semester in college would put him in touch with his Chicanx history and get him sober. All of these things—addiction, recovery, connection to something larger—would lead Matt to his life’s work.

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