Our 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 fourth post features Olga Yaneth Mares, who goes by Yaneth, and who started at the D2 Center in December, 2015. Read her original blog interview from 2016, and check out her update below.
How has the D2 Center changed since you first started working here?
The D2 Center has grown in staff; there are now more Youth Academic Navigators, Career Navigators, and teachers. The D2 Center is also helping more OPS students and started working with dropout students. The additions to our program have allowed us to have an even larger impact for our students and our community.
What are the biggest challenges of being a D2 Center YAN?
The biggest challenges have been working with disengaged students who have started a full-time job and lost their motivation to continue with school. Our goal is to motivate and convince them that by obtaining their high school diploma they will have a better future.
Another challenge has been working with students who become pregnant or are already parenting. It is not always easy to help them balance life and school but we do our best as navigators to provide them with other resources and programs in the community to help them with child care, their mental and physical health, or any other needs that may arise.
What would you consider your successes or your students’ successes at the D2 Center?
The best part of my job is seeing my students graduate thanks in part to our work in partnership with OPS. Some of them have been students that have been parenting, working full time, or have not had the support they needed at home, yet they still graduated. A lot of our students deal with mental health issues such as anxiety or depression and yet despite these barriers, they are committed to getting their diploma. Some of my students tell me that they got accepted into a college or university, which makes all of our efforts worthwhile.
What are some different ways you have helped your students?
I have helped my students in different ways. Some of them include helping them transfer to a different school, finding jobs, childcare, therapy, housing, transportation, and connecting them with our Career Navigators for college planning, work, and life after high school.
What words of wisdom do you share with your students?
“Take one day and one class a time; focus on a class and give 100%.”
“Difficult situations don’t last forever; every difficult situation happens to teach us a lesson.”
I also remind some of my students of the sacrifices their parents have made for them to be in school. Most of my students’ parents didn’t have the chance to get an education. I tell them that if they can’t find the motivation to graduate, to do it for their parents as a way to thank them and make them proud.
What have you learned from your students?
I have learned so many great things from my students. I’ve learned that most of our students have difficulty graduating because they have gone through or are going through hardships in their lives that affect them in school. Some of these barriers include lack of support from their parents, PTSD, depression, anxiety, parenting, not having a stable place to live, etc. It is essential to get to know our students to determine how to help them navigate through high school.
How have you changed or what changes have happened in your life since our last interview?
Since I started working at the D2 Center many changes have happened in my personal life. The most important ones are that I got married and that I am a proud mother of two wonderful sons!