Faces of Long Island celebrates the uniqueness of everyday Long Islanders. In their own words, they tell us about their life experiences, challenges and triumphs. Newsday launched this social media journey into the human experience to shine a light on the diverse people of this wonderful place we call home.

‘One day I just woke up and I was like, I want a future, I want a family and I need a change.’

Stiz Santosa, Freeport

“I was actually born and raised in the boroughs, and then I moved to Long Island. I am a first generation American, and my parents were born in Indonesia. They had to work a lot because they had to support the family. I was put in pretty dangerous situations (at no fault of my parents) where I was basically emotionally abused, which caused a lot of traumas as well.

“Before that I was always a happy, very active kid. However due to the abuse, I went to drinking and drugs growing up. I went in and out of jail three times. I think it was partly due to just being lost and not having a goal and self-confidence in myself — just past trauma. One day I just woke up and I was like, I want a future. I want a family, and I need a change.

I wanted to make a name for myself and have my own business.

“I was an athlete all my life. I swam and I competed in New York City street-handball. I lost touch with sports due to that trauma, which I didn’t realize until later on when I had numerous amounts of therapy. Due to the therapy, I healed and that’s where I am now. I got my personal training certification, and I became super business-oriented and goal-oriented. I just surrounded myself with amazing people — people that I looked up to professionally, financially, and I just learned a lot from them. I think that is how and why my business has grown and so fast.

“I just knew that sports were something that I naturally was good at. I wanted to make a name for myself and have my own business. I was tired of working for others. Stiz Santosa is my brand. I am an independent personal trainer as well as a brand ambassador. I am a firm believer that you need to find out what you are great at and just excel at that and money will come to you. That is basically what I did. Now I just help others with their fitness. But it is not just physical. It’s also emotional and mental because when I shared my story of what happened to me and my journey along the way, a lot of people gravitated towards that. I am just happy that I can help people.”

Interviewed by Victoria Bell