MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - As a former felon, Yusef Hagihassan found it difficult to find a job. But now he is training to get behind the wheel and hit the road.
"I remember sitting one day, looking up careers for felons and truck driving coming up as an option and that never crossed my mind," said Hagihassan.
Hagihassan is taking a four to six week course at Kings Trucking School to get his commercial driver's license. He is the first student to take advantage of a scholarship created to honor fellow student Abdi Omar Abukar.
"He was one of the most energetic and lively students we've ever had. He brought life and joy to our classroom and every student really enjoyed him," said Jibril Abdi, president of King's Truck School.
School officials say Abukar wanted to become a commercial truck driver to put his troubled past behind him, but his dream was cut short when he was shot and killed while sitting in his car in North Minneapolis in December.
Soon after, the school started the Guide Foundation to cover tuition for anyone who has lost a loved one to gun violence or turns in their unregistered guns.
"A lot of times, trucking is an industry where people get a second chance. Abukar mentioned he wanted to get on the road and stay away from whatever was going on in the community. We wanted to give back, not just to our students, but to our community," said Abdi.
Hagihassan says he was devastated that his friend and fellow student lost his life just a week away from graduation.
But he is grateful for the opportunity it gave him to find a new career and get a fresh start.
"I lost friends to gun violence. I lost little cousins in the last year, so you kind of get numb to it. But it still affects you because you know that person isn't going to be here any longer," said Hagihassan.
"It's sad he wasn't able to fulfill his dreams but we're going to keep it going for him through this foundation."