This success story is from Danisha, who worked with Renton YouthSource and Seattle Education Access. ReOpp is posting her story with permission.

My name is Danisha and I am a student at Central Washington University’s branch campus in Des Moines. Next August, I will graduate with a BS in Social Services. My goal is to become a counselor for at-risk youth.

In 2008, I was in high school but really behind in credits and did not feel focused. A friend told me about Renton YouthSource, where I could get diploma on a flexible schedule, so I decided to try it out. It was what I needed and with the help of the teachers and case managers there, I was able to graduate on time.

I wasn’t sure what to do next though. I worked a series of jobs to pay the bills, but that I didn’t enjoy – call center, in-home care, nursing assistant at an assisted living facility. I knew I wanted something better and that I needed to go to school in order to achieve my goals, but I wasn’t sure how to get started. In 2011, a staff member from YouthSource told me about Seattle Education Access and connected me with Jeff Corey, an Education Advocate. Jeff and I started meeting weekly at the library in SeaTac to create an education plan. I knew I wanted to help people and liked the idea of working with children and families. After investigating several options, I decided to pursue an AA transfer degree at Highline College.

My first quarter was very challenging. Despite the fact that I was passing my classes, I felt insecure about whether I was smart enough to be in college. Then, near the end of the quarter, I found out I was pregnant. At first this felt like a wrench in my plans, but soon it became a new source of motivation. Going to school wasn’t just for me anymore. I had someone else to look out for. SEA went the extra mile to make sure I had everything I needed to stay in school, like tutoring, scholarships for books, quarterly planning, and moral support. Jeff provided a lot of affirmation along the way. It meant a lot to have someone that cared. I completed my first year at Highline with a 3.5 GPA then had my son over the summer.

By the end of September, I was back in school, taking online classes while raising my child. My second year was tough with the new baby, but I was really focused. I earned my AA degree in early 2015, and immediately found full-time work as a para-educator at Foster High School in Tukwila. Jeff worked with me to apply to several schools, but ultimately I decided to pursue a BS in Social Services at the Central Washington University branch campus in Des Moines.

I am thankful for all of the support I received from YouthSource and SEA. They have taught me perseverance; that no matter what obstacles life throws at you, you should never give up. With the right supports in place, you really can follow your dreams.

Thank you to Danisha for sharing her story! If you are interested in sharing your success story, you can contact Mario Bailey at Mario.Bailey@kingcounty.gov

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