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Diana S. – Overcoming tragedy: “I’m still here”

BronxWorks Young Adult Internship Program
Workforce Development Department

Diana (right) was first introduced to the BronxWorks Young Adult Internship Program (YAIP) over two years ago. Her boyfriend Oscar couldn’t stop talking about his fantastic experience in it and encouraged Diana to join. Tragedy struck soon thereafter, though, when Oscar drowned in a terrible accident while the two were swimming at a Far Rockaway beach. It was at Oscar’s funeral that Diana met Kiesha Roberts (left), YAIP Program Manager, who he had talked so much about. Ms. Roberts knew it was important to keep Diana engaged at a time when she “wanted to stay invisible,” so she “friended” Diana to connect her to the YAIP Facebook page. She told Diana that the door was always open for her to join the program.

Reflecting back on the months following the accident, Diana says “I wasn’t interested in doing anything, honestly.” With gentle prodding from Ms. Roberts, Diana realized that “in honor of Oscar and everyone who believes in me, I gotta start fixing my life and bettering myself. I can’t just sit around... I’m still here.” Diana decided to embrace Oscar’s positive outlook on life and live up to that by striving to experience and achieve as much as she can. She joined YAIP this past March.

At first, YAIP was a challenge for Diana as she struggled to open up in the way needed to be successful at her internship and with others in the program. Again, with encouragement from Ms. Roberts and other YAIP staff, as well as the other interns, she proudly says that she’s a lot more open and less painfully shy than she has always been in group settings. Diana says she really does feel like you “become a family with the people you meet” at YAIP.

Diana has done so well that Ms. Roberts has asked her to lead a new YAIP photo/video project. She thought it would be a great way for Diana to stay connected to YAIP beyond her internship, and also a way to continue building her confidence by putting her artistic talents to use. Diana is very excited about this project. She says that “taking pictures of people makes me happy” and she likes that she can creatively “put in my own ideas.”

Diana has completed her three-month YAIP internship at Emmis Communications (owner of the popular HOT 97 radio station) and secured employment, so she is moving on to new goals. She started GED prep classes this summer and is looking forward to college in the future. Ms. Roberts continues to support Diana with her longer-term goals, as she’s already identified a strong potential college program in graphic design, Diana’s field of interest. With her newfound confidence and the support of Ms. Roberts and the YAIP program, we can surely say that together Diana and Ms. Roberts are lifting lives and building futures.

The BronxWorks Workforce Development Department assists people that are unemployed, looking for their first job, or need help improving their careers. Services include: job skills and computer training, placement assistance, resume and interview preparation, ESL and basic education classes, budgeting and financial literacy, and benefits assistance. Please send questions or comments to info@bronxworks.org. To support BronxWorks, please visit our donate page.

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