• Maryam

    Maryam began attending YWCA St. Paul Youth programs at age 14, and committed to regular attendance for four years. Now as a high school senior, she has gained the skills and experience to be the first in her family to attend college. Watch Video
  • Shay

    At just 18, Shay has faced both adversity and trauma. Her experiences have transformed her into a passionate advocate for youth and someone determined to make a difference in the lives of others. Watch Video
  • Rakeem

    Lacking a stable support system throughout his childhood, Rakeem came to the YWCA looking to build new relationships and stay on the right path. Today, thanks to the network of support he found through IMPACT, he is focused on earning his high school diploma. Watch Video
  • Khalique

    At the YWCA, Khalique not only found a job but a positive path. Watch Video
  • Quintin

    Quintin has made great academic strides with help from the Youth Achievers Program and Project Able. Watch Video
  • Nena

    Nena quickly became involved in the YWCA’s opportunities to connect with other young people and to make a difference in her community. She also flourished when it came to defining her educational goals and took advantage of exposure to employment and career opportunities for the future. Watch Video


Maryam lives with her parents and three younger siblings in an apartment just a few blocks away from YWCA St. Paul, but before coming to her first Youth IMPACT event at age 14, she thought it was just a place where people worked out.

Now, 18-year-old Maryam works in YWCA St. Paul Health & Fitness Center’s Kids Care, where gym members can drop their children off while they work out. She earned that job through the skills and connections she made through her consistent attendance of YWCA St. Paul Youth IMPACT programs.

In addition to her job in Kids Care, Maryam attends Central High School, takes classes at St. Paul College, has an internship and teaches at her mosque. The professional skills she’s learned in the last four years—like time management—benefit the ambitious high school senior now and will help her continue to be successful in the future.

The Youth program’s two components—youth employment and young women’s empowerment—have set Maryam on a path different from anyone else in her family. Growing up in Ethiopia, Maryam’s mother was not allowed to go to school past fourth grade. She has encouraged Maryam to take advantage of the opportunities available right up the street from their apartment, and pushed her to keep attending for her entire high school career.

“My mother has been a big support for me,” Maryam said. “I want to go to college for myself first, and for my mother as well—for her to know I’m trying to get to a point where she hasn’t gotten to.”

Maryam’s hard work has paid off; she was accepted to several colleges, and will attend Augsburg College this fall.

“I would say she’s definitely more outspoken,” La’Shante Grigsby, YWCA St. Paul Youth Support Specialist, said. “She’s very resourceful. She’s a leader. I’m really excited to see what’s next for Maryam.”

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"I want to go to college for myself first, for my mother as well – for her to know I’m trying to get to a point where she hasn’t gotten to."