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.”