Tag Archives: YABC

Christopher’s Story

Christopher, a graduate of Flushing Young Adult Borough Center (YABC)

During COVID, I worked construction during the day and did my schoolwork online in the nights.

When it was time to go back to regular [in-person] school, I didn’t want to go back. I was a senior, but I didn’t have enough credits to graduate on time. I wanted to drop out. But my guidance counselor, Mr. Baglio, told me, hey, would you like to join this program that helps you get your credits? He explained to me about Flushing YABC [Young Adult Borough Center at Flushing High School], which is a school for students like me.

At first, I didn’t want to hear anything about it. I was already working and didn’t want to do school anymore. But Mr. Baglio convinced me. He said they [the YABC staff] would support me and work with my schedule. I took the offer and went to YABC.

I’d get up at 5 a.m., go to my construction job, and then go to YABC right after at 3 p.m. It was killing me because I also had a night shift job. Eventually I got a job at a bagel shop—went in to work at 5 [a.m.], out by 2 [p.m.], went to school from 3-8:30. But I was struggling to pay my bills. I had a lot of difficulty around that time. I got kicked out of my house. In my culture, parents are often quick to judge and not really listen. I was going to give up on school. I was done.

The only thing that stopped me was Ms. Peña. Ms. Peña was my primary contact at YABC. Every single time I thought about dropping out, she’d remind me I was almost done. She’d say, Chris, you got this, don’t give up; you are going to finish high school. She was always there to listen and help me with solutions. When I told her about my job situation, she helped me find a job at FHS [Flushing High School] that fit into my schedule. It was a paid internship through the Learning to Work program. I worked with Mr. Max in the IT department of FHS doing inventory. He helped me develop business wise. I didn’t know how to communicate, how to speak to someone in an office. Now I’ve worked with a lot of staff at FHS. Teachers know me very well. I got a lot of respect from them, and they told me that they would help me with getting a job if I ever needed it.

Ms. Peña also helped me figure out what I wanted to do after high school. She had people come in to talk to us about different jobs, what they do day to day. There were people who had jobs in business, real estate … and a police officer. Becoming a police officer kind of hit me as something I want to do. He said that it’s always good just to help the community. A lot of Hispanic people don’t understand English very well, they need help sometimes, and it’s good to help the community. That’s something that interested me. He gave me ideas to organize myself a little better, talked about college. I took his advice. I decided to go to Queensborough Community College to study criminal justice. I’m starting my first semester now. I’m doing that!

I am where I am because of Ms. Peña. I cried to her when I graduated. I couldn’t believe I really did it!

I also want to thank Mr. Max. When I started in the technology room with Mr. Max, I was used to carpentry, not computers. I told him, I’m slow, you’re going to get frustrated with me. But he taught me everything. I took inventory on 500 computers! He taught me new things every day. It feels good to learn! I always thought, I’ll stick to construction, but you know what? It’s always good to learn.

To read more about Flushing YABC, see this Q&A with Program Director Jaimee Diehl and this spotlight on YABC’s career fair.

Update, October 2023: Christopher is now a first-year student at Queensborough Community College, and he sent us this update:

“My first semester of college was fun, but, at the same time, very stressful trying to fit in with a lot of new people. Most of my professors were nice and great at teaching. I just didn’t pass algebra and will have to retake it next semester. It’s fine. .. I think I learned [better] this semester! I got good grades aside from that. My second semester was much better. I met a lot of people, thanks to the soccer team.

I was able to represent the Tigers (Queensborough community college men’s soccer team) with number 23 this year, becoming QCC’s center back. Being part of this team really showed me a lot of things, from celebrating wins to also knowing how to lose as a team. There are many things that still must get fixed within the team, but we can work on that next semester. Honestly speaking, college can be fun when you make it fun, but it can also be a pain when you’re not doing what must be done. There’s a lot of things that need to be learned and worked on, one step at a time. My goal is finishing school with a criminology degree and to be able to join the NYPD. There’s still many steps to get there, but as long as it’s rolling towards that direction, I’m fine. Good things take a long time to make.”

Career Fair: Charting the Path Forward for Over-age and Under-credited Students at YABC

Students at YABC career fair

Students at YABC career fair

By Jaimee Diehl, Program Director, Young Adult Borough Center at Flushing High School

Last month, the Young Adult Borough Center (YABC) at Flushing High School in Queens held a career fair to get students excited about what comes after graduation, and to see their academics as part of a larger plan. Increasing high school graduation rates is a key goal of The Child Center of NY. Continue reading

Jessica’s Story

Jessica, a Child Center of NY client, with her high school diploma from Young Adult Borough Center at Flushing High School

Jessica with her high school diploma

I was born and raised in Queens, with just my brother and my mother. My mother is from San Salvador; she raised me and my brother alone all of our lives. Although it was just the three of us, there were always good times. My mother always had my best interest in her mind. We did not have much money growing up, but my mother made sure we always had a roof over our heads and food on our table.

In school, I did OK for a while, but that changed when I got to high school. I was not thinking about my future, missing classes and enjoying time with friends. My lack of motivation or of any goals regarding what I wanted to do after high school made it all seem unimportant, and I became extremely behind in my classes.

When I finally decided I wanted to get my act together, I realized just how much damage I had caused myself. I couldn’t believe how many classes I needed in order to graduate on time. I tried to take as many classes as I needed to graduate, but it became too overwhelming and difficult. To make matters worse, I started to compare myself to others and think about where I should have been, about all the mistakes I had made over the years. I felt like I was the only one struggling with passing all my classes. I began to feel it was impossible for me to graduate.

I almost gave up, but then my counselor told me about Young Adult Borough Center at Flushing High School, where The Child Center of NY serves as lead CBO [community-based organization]. She told me that YABC was what’s called an alternate high school that focuses on providing individual support to help over-age and under-credited students graduate. Just knowing that there was such a place immediately made me feel better and less alone — and like graduating might actually be possible.

When I first arrived at YABC at the age of 18, the staff was very understanding and nonjudgmental about my difficulty with high school. They wanted to get to know me and what caused me to have difficulty in school to prevent it from happening again. I told them that I needed a lot of classes in order to graduate, and in the past I had become overwhelmed with how many classes I needed. When I mentioned this to the staff, they made sure I took classes and arranged a schedule that would not overwhelm me. The teachers made the environment very relaxed and easygoing to follow along with materials. I have had issues with teachers in the past, but at YABC the teachers were all amazing, and a big part of what helped me succeed. They all want to see you graduate and are very easy to talk to. They want to get to know you, hear what brought you here, and give you advice and their opinions on problems you might have. Thanks to the teaching at YABC, even when I needed a lot of classes, I never once felt overwhelmed or stressed. I never failed a single class.

Most of the students had the same mindset of wanting to graduate and move forward with their lives. The majority of them had been through the same struggle of trying to graduate and were determined to make it happen. I caught on to that mindset quickly, which really helped me not to focus on trivial things; it reminded me what I came there for: to graduate and to focus on my future.

I began to realize that I really could graduate, and that I needed a plan for post-graduation. I talked to Alain Cedeno, Flushing YABC’s assistant program director and coordinator of the LTW (Learn to Work) Program, and he helped me gain valuable work experience through an internship at The Child Center of NY.

My duties as an intern varied day to day from calling vendors to filing paper work and just helping around if anyone needed something, from copying to scanning. Just doing these simple tasks benefited me a lot. For example, calling vendors and talking to people helped me develop communication skills and taught me how to be more vocal in my everyday life.

By interning at The Child Center of NY, I was able to explore different fields and positions. This helped me profoundly, since before I started working at The Child Center of NY, I did not have an idea of what I wanted to do after I graduated. However, through working for The Child Center, I was able to gain an understanding of fields that I would be interested in — especially finance.

As time passed, people started to give me more tasks, and I became more comfortable. A full-time position opened up as Account Payable Associate, and thanks to my job performance, my supervisors at The Child Center recommended me for the position — and I got the job! Now that I am working at The Child Center of NY, I’m gaining valuable skills and assets that will help me in the future.

That’s the biggest thing that YABC helped me with:  helping me focus on my future. Now that I understand the possibilities I can achieve, I have a drive and desire to improve myself for the long term. This past January, I realized a goal that a few years ago seemed impossible: I graduated from YABC and earned my high school diploma! My plan now is to pursue a professionally rewarding career in finance. In order to do that, I need to go to college. This fall, I will be starting my associate degree in accounting at LaGuardia Community College. Then I will pursue my bachelor’s degree. My goal is to have a career in accounting and become financially independent.

I know now that there a lot of people out there like me who have struggled to keep up in school and may be overwhelmed and feeling hopeless. I wish those people will find YABC instead of giving up. At YABC, everyone’s goal is to make sure you graduate, and they understand that there is more to life after high school. The staff and teachers will help with any issue you have, from a problem at home to a teacher or student. They will help you look toward your future after high school, from helping you apply to colleges to assisting you in looking for alternate education options aside from college. Through the internship program, you will be able to gain firsthand workforce experience, from working with animals to senior citizens and a wide variety of jobs. And if you are not interested in an internship, they will still help you look for a job or simply help you with your resumé. They believe in you — and as a result, you will believe in yourself, too.

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