Yuleika, Class of 2012
Many YBN students have multiple co-existing challenges that can make the path to upward mobility difficult. But throughout the program, they regularly demonstrate their resiliency and a steadfast commitment to improving their lives. Yuleika is one such case.

Yuleika entered the foster care system at the age of 13. When she was 17 years old, her daughter was born. Having dropped out of school a few years prior and a new mother, Yuleika decided she had to do something. She decided to apply to YBN after learning about the program through her sister who happened to be a YouthBuild Paterson graduate.

Although she at first found the program difficult, Yuleika remained motivated. “It was hard because I didn’t want to leave my daughter [but she] kept me in the program. I had to set an example for her,” she said.

During her enrollment, Yuleika interned with Newark Community Health Centers without pay or a guarantee of employment. But she persisted. She now works there full-time providing administrative support and plans to start college in the spring to pursue an associate’s degree in nursing.

Although she works full-time, Yuleika has committed to sharing her story with others. She recently spoke with participants of YBN’s Fall 2015 Mental Toughness Orientation, a two-week process that introduces applicants to the YBN program and its expectations. Her simple advice to youth who are facing obstacles that may seem too large to overcome is, “Don’t stop.”