Our new YAN Spotlight series is an extension of our “Meet the Staff” series of posts where we follow up with our Youth Academic Navigators since the last time they were featured on the blog.
Our second post features Kelsey Hansen, who started at the D2 Center in September, 2013. Read her original blog interview from 2013, and check out her update below.
How has the D2 Center changed since you first started working here?
The D2 Center has grown in many ways. We’re working with a lot more students, are partnering with more resources, and expanded the school districts we work with. We’ve increased the number of staff working at the D2 Center, including more YANs, multiple Career Navigators, and additional retired OPS teachers for tutoring and our classes.
What are the biggest challenges of being a D2 Center YAN?
Working with this population of students can have various challenges. Many of these teens are forced to grow up so fast and be responsible for so much more than just their education and being a kid. It can be challenging helping them with those obligations, especially when it’s transportation or if there aren’t the right resources in the community to assist them. Another challenge is working with students that choose not to communicate well with their YAN. Along with these, I would have to say the biggest challenge is working with students that have so much potential but absolutely no motivation, drive, or ambition.
What would you consider your successes or your students’ successes at the D2 Center?
For my students’ successes it would be the obvious: when they earn their high school diploma. But more importantly, I would say when they mature both as a person and cognitively. Also, when they start to problem solve on their own and no longer need assistance and reach that independence that they so desperately desire — that is such a big step for some of our students.
One of my greatest successes is being a part of the growth my students are making every day and the possibility that I am positively impacting their life. Another is that I am the reason that a lot of young people have earned their high school diploma or are currently working towards it. In addition to assisting my students with earning their high school diploma, I have helped my students with so many of life’s challenges (see next question).
What are some different ways you have helped your students?
To name a few needs and obstacles I’ve assisted with: reenrollment into school, job assistance, tutoring, vision appointments and eyewear, dental appointments, health insurance so they can seek medical attention, housing, food, clothes, shoes, various items for their home, transportation, repossession of their car, divorce, school supplies, rides to or from school or appointments, child care, and a multitude of needs for their child.
What words of wisdom do you share with your students?
When people are constantly “yelling” and “nagging” at you it’s because they care, and they believe that you can do so much more with your life. It’s when they stop that you should be worried and upset because that’s when they have given up on you and believe you have reached your greatest potential.
What have you learned from your students?
No matter how hard life can get, and the difficulty of the obstacles thrown at you, you can achieve anything with heart, desire, motivation, and help. Additionally, a person’s success can be done on their own but for some it could take a “village.”
How have you changed or what changes have happened in your life since our last interview?
I bought a new car two years ago and have had the opportunity to travel more in the last few years. More importantly, I have become more aware of different cultures and the reality of what a lot of people in poverty must experience and their daily struggles.