“I’ve been really lucky”, says Karely, Starbucks barista.

Karely works as a barista at a Starbucks in Tukwila and attends school at Career Link, a high school completion program for students ages 16-21 who no longer attend traditional high school. Career Link is located on the campus of South Seattle College.

Karely is from Mexico, where she was enrolled in a nursing program in high school. When she came to live with family in Seattle at the age of 18, her local school placed her in the 9th grade. Not wanting to repeat classes and study with much younger students, Karely sought out an alternative option to complete high school and found Career Link.

Karely got her job with Starbucks at the May 5, 2016 100K Opportunity Fair and Forum. She interviewed with three companies and received an on-the-spot offer from Starbucks. She describes her work environment as supportive. “I have a really nice crew. I have their support. They always tell me I’m really good at this. I feel recognized for my work.” She also expressed appreciation for her customers, saying, “I like receiving compliments from customers. When people are nice, you remember their drinks. It makes them feel special.”

The 100,000 Opportunities Initiative (100K) in Seattle and King County, Washington is developing partnerships and innovative practices around the recruitment, hiring and development of opportunity youth in the region. To date, they have reached over 2,000 young people with employment opportunities through job fairs, targeted events, and by facilitating connections between employers and community organizations supporting young job seekers. Karely is an example of an opportunity youth who has benefited from 100K’s work.

Karely summed up her experiences this way: “I’ve been really lucky. School, family, home, work are my everything.”