By Yesenia Capellino, Program Manager, Youth Workforce Services
For the past six years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with so many Los Angeles youth through my role at Para Los Niños, Youth Workforce Services.
When I first got hired at PLN in 2014, I was so excited to have the opportunity to work with high school and college students. My first role at PLN was as College and Career Advisor. The position allowed me to support students through a very transformative year in their lives, their senior year in high school. I supported students as they transitioned out of high school and into college or into the workforce. For many first-generation college-bound students, this transition can be very overwhelming, confusing and intimidating. I always aimed to be a support system to my students, because I know what it is like to navigate the higher educational system as a first-generation college-bound student.
Youth Workforce Services aims to achieve four main goals with all of our students: high school completion, higher education enrollment, career readiness, and providing wraparound services to ensure students are able to overcome any barriers they may be facing.
During their first year enrolled, we assist students through the college application process. This includes completing the college applications, applying for financial aid, scholarships, and hosting weekly student workshops and monthly parent meetings. This is all to ensure our students and their families are guided through the exciting yet overwhelming time in their lives. During their second year, students continue to receive guidance and support ensuring they are transitioning into college successfully.
Each year, a new group of students come into our program, but we don’t stop connecting with those from years ago. To this day, I am grateful to still keep in contact with many of my students that I worked with my very first day at PLN! Many of my former students have now graduated (or are close to graduating) from college, or have even gone to graduate school and are pursuing ambitious goals. Others took a different path and are working full-time, or taking care of their own families. A few have even come full circle and are now employees at Para Los Niños!
Now, I am the Program Manager for this amazing department of PLN, and I have an amazing team who works tirelessly to provide our community with education and career services to help our community thrive. It has been, and continues to be a pleasure working with so many incredible students who inspire me on a daily basis.
My work fulfills me and I feel so grateful to have a career that I love and I look forward to every day. Since I’ve started, we have expanded to serve Northeast Los Angeles and Central Los Angeles, and PLN continues to build new partnerships – like the Avanzando Through College program aimed to further support college students. I look forward to the continued growth of our YWS program, so that we can serve more and more of the amazing youth of Los Angeles.