COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY: Kutztown University
In 2014 when my mother became incarcerated, I was sure that my destiny was to quit school and take care of my younger siblings. From moving out of our home, closing out bills, figuring out how to change health insurance, getting my own cell phone plan, deciding what would happen with our family dog, getting a better paying job etc. I was lost to say the least. I had two younger siblings that would be changing schools, changing caregivers and also losing their mother and home. Filling out my FAFSA, registering for classes and studying for my current ones were the last things on my mind. However, Billy Staples and all of the many wonderful volunteers at BEST, made sure that I would continue my education, no matter what. Once I met them, quitting school wasn’t an option.
Once I applied to BEST I was immediately integrated into a support network that always made me feel like I had somewhere to go. They offered me way more than a check to attend school. BEST helped me fill out the paperwork for my financial aid. They gave me guidance on the career path that I would ultimately choose and allowed me to make various great connections personally and professionally. My mentor and I had weekly check-in’s which covered goal setting and attainable ways to reach them. I always felt like I had a team of people who cared about me and were rooting for my success.
In my last semester of college I was placed in an internship that worked with children of incarcerated parents. Given my own personal history, I was terrified to say the least. My mentor at BEST encouraged me to keep an open mind but also reminded me that it was just as OK to know what I do not want my career path to be. After my first week at the internship, BEST checked in to see how things were going. I think that they were pleasantly surprised because I was IN LOVE with my position. When that semester ended I was offered a full time position with them and have now been running my own program with that agency since 2016, assisting children with incarcerated parents. I have never felt more fulfilled in my entire life than I do by helping these kids. To think that I was in a position where the incarceration of my mother almost threw my entire life projection out the window, I can’t help myself from wanting to help kids and teens who are feeling the exact same way.
I never would have finished my education if it weren’t for BEST. I wouldn’t have been able to make an impact on my community in the way that I am if it weren’t for them. And I sure as heck wouldn’t have a career that I am so passionate and excited about. I am so thankful for BEST every day for pushing me to pursue my education and for helping me reach my goal of getting up every day to do something that I love.