the 71 Para Los Niños high school graduates from the Central and East YouthSource Centers at their graduation ceremony in June 2019
Para Los Niños (PLN) held a graduation ceremony Monday June 24, 2019, to celebrate 71 high school graduates from the Central and East YouthSource Centers, many of whom will be the first in their families to attend college.

The graduates were participants in PLN’s Escalera Taking Steps to Success curriculum, a two-year program designed to provide social, emotional and financial support to youth participants, giving them the keys to gain entrance to higher education.

Student speaker Shao Yang expressed gratitude to her mentors at PLN, “All of this preparation has helped me become more confident in succeeding in college,” said Shao Yang. She added that she appreciated the opportunity to meet other students from similar backgrounds, many of whom are from low-income families and will be first-generation college attendees. Shao will be attending Cal State Northridge in the fall.

“Thank you PLN staff for helping me,” she said. “I’ll be back with my bachelor’s very soon.”

Another speaker at the event was parent Araceli Amador, who thanked PLN for providing a supportive environment for the students and guided them through the application process for financial aid, especially Araceli’s daughter Yuliana Hernandez.

“In this program, she was able to get the attention she was missing in school,” Araceli said. “She was able to find that encouragement to go day by day and not stop.” Araceli applauded PLN for the effectiveness of their program, “I hope you can continue to illuminate the path for the students so their lives can be as bright as they can be.”

PLN alumni Destiny Nguyen, who is now a Community Administrative Support Worker at EWDD also spoke, highlighting the partnership between EWDD and PLN.

“We here at the City, we support you as well,” Destiny said. “Know that you are not alone. We’re here together as a family. Strive, continue to push through. Take on what life has to offer you.”

Learn more about the many programs and benefits offered through EWDD Youth Services and their YouthSource Centers.

This story is part of the EWDD UPDATES from the week of June 24, 2019. Read this issue and more.