For Zaynah, the road to high school graduation and applying for college was not an easy one. She had to overcome obstacle after obstacle all while working three jobs in order to financially support herself. But with hard work and help from JEVS Human Services, she was able to achieve her educational goals.
While she was a junior at a Philadelphia high school, she joined JEVS Preparing for, Attaining and Sustaining Success program, or PASS for short. Through the PASS program, Zaynah learned how to navigate college and work applications, conduct interviews, present publicly and facilitate conversations about difficult topics.
“With PASS, I feel like I became a better person and more well-rounded,” she said. “They helped me see my vision easier.”
While in the PASS program, she was one of six students to participate in a youth-led health assessment through America’s Promise Alliance, the nation’s largest partnership alliance devoted to improving the lives of children and youth. The research project focused on youth access to health and wellness, and youth issues in the community. Zaynah was selected to represent Philadelphia and present the findings to a conference attended by 300 people in Washington, D.C.
As she continued to grow through the program, Zaynah transitioned from PASS participant to intern, earning a position in JEVS Youth Services department. In this role, she assisted in planning programming, facilitating workshops and creating the bi-annual newsletter. While interning at JEVS, Zaynah was also working part-time at Snap Pizza.
Zaynah received a lot of support from Jen and Gloria, education counselors in the PASS program. From tutoring, to navigating financial aid, to helping with personal issues, they were there. On days when Zaynah was feeling down, Jen and Gloria would pull her aside and talk to her.
“Even though they work 9-5, their job is 24 hours,” Zaynah said. “They are so passionate about their students.”
With JEVS’ support, Zaynah applied for a number of scholarships and received the prestigious Wolf Foundation Scholarship that will provide some financial support for all four years while she is attending college.
“Without them, I would be in college, but I would be stressed out,” Zaynah said.
Now a freshman at Community College of Philadelphia, Zaynah will be majoring in Broadcast Journalism.
“I want to graduate and say that I did it!”