Gateway graduate Dylan Marengo, 22, opened a tropical fish store in Worcester in June, making his longtime dream a reality.
A collector of fish, as well as a fisherman, he had wanted to open his own store. The store is a culmination of his hard work and dedication, tangible proof of how he has taken steps to change his life and choose a different path than one that was once before him.
Mr. Marengo started in the Gateway program when he was 17 years old, after he had been kicked out of South High and an alternative high school program.
“Previously in high school, I was getting in trouble. I was surrounded by unmotivated people who were causing trouble,” he said. “At Gateway, I was surrounded by people who were trying to excel and better themselves. It rubbed off on me, I started enjoying school and working harder.”
“By the grace of God, they took me, and it turned my entire life around,” Mr. Marengo said.
He completed the Gateway program, earning his high school diploma. In May, he graduated from Quinsigamond Community College with an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice.
Mr. Marengo’s goal is to become an environmental police officer or game warden. He enjoys kayak fishing, and even traveled to Tennessee to compete in a kayak fishing competition.
Jenna Glazer, Resource Specialist at the Gateway to College program, said QCC opened a lot of doors for him.
“He’s come a long way since I met him in 2013,” said Ms. Glazer. “He has taken ahold of his future and now he will be able to move forward in a successful life.”
Mr. Marengo has been keeping fish since he was young. “It was my dream to have a tropical fish store, I just never thought I could do it,” he said.
He had been breeding and selling fish on the side, and through his own interest realized there wasn’t a fish store in the area. When he saw a retail spot available that fit his needs for space and affordability, he decided to go for it.
“I have been setting it up for the last three months, while I’ve been going to school every day,” he said. “Just two weeks after I graduated, on June 1, I had a soft opening of the shop. I plan to have another opening later this summer.”
His store, Lucky’s Aquarium, is at 70 James St., Suite 111A in Worcester. The store is named after his freshwater stingray Lucky, who he rescued from a pet store. The stingray was at the bottom of a tank, and had been forgotten about. “He was extremely malnourished,” he said. “I fed him and took care of him and now he is a healthy, big boy. Once his tank is ready, I’ll bring him to the store, as a store mascot.”
At QCC, having a flexible schedule was an important to Mr. Marengo, because he was working as a pizza delivery driver while attending school. Mr. Marengo grew up in Worcester, on Sylvan Street. He has two older brothers.