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Shelby Blank

Senior Feature: Tania's Story - "I have a voice"

Graduation is always a special time at CLUES, but even more so this year. 2020 has brought many unforeseen challenges to its graduating class. We want to take the time to celebrate all that our youth participants have overcome and all that they are setting out to do. Whether they are graduating from high school, college or a university, we are extremely proud of their accomplishments.

Each CLUES student has a unique story to tell about the journey that brought them to graduation day. Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing several stories of students from all walks of life. There are those who have overcome profound hardships, those who are first-generation college graduates and those who have an established family history at CLUES. We celebrate the success of all our graduates and encourage you to read their stories as a way to inspire your own educational journey.

Tania graduated from Washington Technology Magnet High School and has been a dedicated participant in our Youth Action program (YA!). She is passionate about community service and making meaningful connections through volunteering in her community. Throughout her four years in the program, Tania grew into leadership roles and discovered her voice and how she intends to use it when she arrives at Bethel University this fall.

Tania comments in her interview that she is a part of the next generation, and that their ideas and accomplishments matter, no matter how small. We could not agree more. YA! Seeks to help students just like Tania envision a virtuous future for themselves and that is exactly what Tania has been able to do. By gaining confidence in her ideas and the value she brings to her community, she is setting herself up for success. As the first in her family to graduate, we are so proud of her accomplishments. We cannot wait to see what you accomplish at college, Tania. Congratulations!

Please read on to hear more from Tania herself on what her path after graduation looks like and visit CLUES YA! Website for more information and connect with us on social media to stay updated about upcoming stories. (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube)

Are there specific activities, lessons or opportunities YA! provides that especially impacted you?

Community service and civic engagement have had the biggest impact on me. They’ve helped me realize and learn how I could make a positive impact in the world we live in. The experiences I received through community service and civic engagement have allowed me to develop a passion for volunteering specifically with kids or in locations where I would be able to have personal interactions with people. Both of those components of YA! have brought me different perspectives and taught me new things that will help me prepare for my dream job. The YA! institutes also helped me learn how to build community and network.

What have you learned about yourself throughout your journey with the YA! Program?

Throughout my journey with YA!, I have learned that I have a passion for working with the community and with youth. I can see myself someday doing the work that the staff in YA! do. Another big thing that I learned is that I have a voice. Throughout the four years, I learned how I can use my voice to make an impact on those around me and how I could keep developing it. I also came to see myself as a leader and how I could use those skills to improve communities and make an impact on others.

What is a moment or accomplishment that you are especially proud of?

One thing I am proud of is my perseverance throughout high school. It allowed me to challenge myself academically, and for that reason, I will be entering college as a sophomore because of my credits from CIS classes and PSEO. I encourage everyone to take advantage of those programs if they are offered in high school!

Why do you think programs like YA! are important?

Programs like YA! allow us students who come from backgrounds where the education system is new to our families to receive opportunities and experiences that can help us succeed. They give us the resources to be on the right path and guide us through the challenges that come from being first-generation, Latinx students.

What message or advice do you have for younger Latino students?

We are the next generation. We all have many experiences and perspectives that can help this world out. Remember your roots and where you come from. Your voice matters, so don’t be afraid to use it because it is important for everyone to hear everything you have to say. Also be proud of your accomplishments no matter how small or big they are.

What does it mean to you and your family to graduate?

Graduating is a big achievement for me and for my family since I am the first in my family to graduate, as well as continue to pursue higher education at a four-year university. I see it as a big milestone because, even with all the obstacles, I was able to accomplish succeeding throughout high school and pushing forward. It was a moment of growth and learning that is allowing me to be one step closer to reaching my dream.

What’s next for you?

This year I will be attending Bethel University where I plan on majoring in Community Health and Biology with a minor in Spanish. I want to return to my community and be a resource to other youth who come from similar backgrounds as me or from marginalized communities who need the extra support to succeed.

How did the YA! Program and your mentor prepare you for your life after high school?

In my four years of being in the program, I have come to envision a future for myself. It has guided me and helped me learn how I can reach my goals. YA! has motivated and inspired me to do more in life because of everything that I received an opportunity to do. I also learned what it meant to have people there for support in whatever hardships or obstacles I was facing. The YA! staff and my mentor were always there to listen to me which allowed me to be comfortable to grow as a leader and to step out of my comfort zone to prepare for the future.


Shelby Blank

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