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She was a young mother of a two-year-old, relying on her parents and child’s father for income. To give her son a life of comfort and opportunity, she knew she needed to make a change.
So Taleesha joined our CHAMPION Network, which provides job training and placement to Cypress Hills residents. Here, Taleesha received academic training, career training in transportation, and job placement as an Access-a-Ride driver. Today, she transports disabled residents around the city in her very own CareRide car.
Equipped with a new job and the skills to succeed, Taleesha has a bright future ahead of her. “I thank the CHAMPION Network for opening up doors for me,” she said. “I feel financially free, and I feel that wherever my path takes me, I have the experience and support to persevere.”
With the help of CHLDC, Serenity is blossoming into a strong and passionate student.
The young student and Cypress Hills native has always loved to read. But last year, she didn’t feel challenged by her school’s curriculum. Her class was reading short, beginner books, but Serenity wanted to read chapter books.
“I want to read bigger books that help me learn more words,” she said.
So Serenity joined Ready Readers, part of CHLDC’s afterschool program. Ready Readers helps Cypress Hills students in kindergarten through second grade develop advanced reading and language skills.
Serenity said her experience with Ready Readers has helped her to succeed in all areas of school. “Because I did Ready Readers last year,” she said, “I’m going to do better this year.”
She now asks for extra homework on the weekends, and is the president of her class. We have no doubt that she will go on to do great things, chapter books in hand.
Raymi never thought that she could attend college.
She moved to New York from the Dominican Republic when she was eight years old. She did not have the money she assumed would be necessary to finance a college education, and she did not know anyone in a situation like hers who had attended college. She had no information about the application process, or how she could enroll.
But Raymi’s life was changed completely when she came to CHLDC’s Student Success Center for counseling. Ramyi’s counselors informed her that she could, in fact, attend college. They encouraged her to try her best, to make her application strong. They helped her find the schools that were the right fit for her.
Now, Raymi is a senior in the sociology department at Hunter College, and is part of Hunter’s prestigious Honors program. Not only is she an outstanding student, but she will be the first in her family to graduate college.
She is also giving back to the CHLDC by working as one of our College Persistence Coaches, and helping her peers navigate the college experience, from class work to financial aid.
“She told me, ‘You’re in the same situation as me,’” said Dayna, a student at Queens College who Raymi advises. “I talked to her about what I was going through, and she helped me.”
Raymi loves helping other students, and plans on using her education to help marginalized communities in the future. She said, “It’s really rewarding…knowing that you’re an advocate for somebody.”
Ivory Lopez was working long hours in a bakery in NYC with low pay and no benefits. Ivory came to the CHAMPION program with hopes of a better career opportunity. Her commitment to the training schedule was remarkable, traveling by train daily from Mount Vernon (about 2 hours), after working nights at the bakery.
Ivory obtained her CDL and was placed with an Access A Ride provider in Mount Vernon (5 minutes from her home).Ivory loves her job and the passengers and now has complete union benefits and a livable wage.
Jermani began his second chance at a college career in the spring of 2015 at Kingsborough Community College. He’d been dismissed from SUNY Alfred the previous semester after struggling academically but he was determined to try again.
Since his first day at Kingsborough, Jermani prioritized his studies and developed his potential as a student leader. With the guidance and support of the College Persistence team and Kingsborough staff, Jermani became a presence on campus and achieved the highest possible honor at his graduation: valedictorian of his class. He also received the Gladys Brooks Foundation Scholarship for Student Leadership and Academic Excellence Award and was accepted to Binghamton University. Jermani faced obstacles in securing enough financial aid and scholarship money, but he has worked diligently with his Persistence Counselor to develop a plan to cover the cost of his education at Binghamton, where he will enroll in the fall. Jermani has overcome many challenges and we are proud and excited to see him continue his education at a four-year college.
Jessenia Maguana graduated from Brooklyn Lab School in 2013 and enrolled at SUNY Albany with help from the Student Success Center. Since her enrollment, she has proven her academic mastery as an accounting major and earned Dean’s List recognitions on numerous occasions. She took full advantage of the opportunities available at her college and eventually secured an internship with one of the largest accounting firms in the US: PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC).
This spring, she graduated (within 4 years of college enrollment) and secured a place in SUNY Albany’s graduate school where she will pursue a Master’s degree in Taxation. PWC also asked her to return to intern again this summer. Jessenia is on the road to a terrific career and we could not be more proud to have played a role in her success.
Slims Aguayo immigrated to the USA in 2010 from Mexico. Slims had her license in Mexico for over 8 years, however her driving record wasn’t accepted by employers for experience.
Although Spanish was her native language, Slims completed the CDL training and we were able to secure her employment with an ambulette company in Brooklyn. Since that time, Slims has excelled at her job, often training new drivers for her company. Having full time employment has enabled Slims to provide for her extended family and even help her relatives still living in Mexico.
David Kendal came to the CHAMPION Network after being laid off from his job with a retail store. David completed his CDL training and was placed as a driver for an Access A Ride provider.
After a short time David decided he was interested in driving a school bus. CHAMPION was able to secure a position for David as a school bus driver. David now loves his job and the students he transports.
When Devon Gardner (pictured on right) came to CHAMPION, he was unemployed with three young children. After completing the CHAMPION program, Devon went to work for an Access-A-Ride company. Devon was mentored by one of CHAMPION’s alumni (pictured left), Jerome Paul, who has risen to the position of dispatcher at the company.
Since completing the Commercial Driver’s License training program, Devon has worked hard and advanced himself. He was able to obtain a Class B CDL, an upgrade and advancement on his original CDL. Devon also drivers a school bus part-time to supplement his income for his family. His family’s living situation has improved dramatically and Devon often stops in to speak with new CDL classes to offer encouragement and support to new students.