“Ava” is an endearing young woman who has been through insurmountable odds. Now a high school graduate who started college this summer for nursing, she is miles away from where she could have ended up if not for the support of Dalisha Phillips, the site coordinator at Rainier Beach High School.

Ava’s path has been filled with many roadblocks. While living with her mom, she was in and out of apartments, getting evicted every few months for non-payment. Her mother, a high school dropout, had no skills to pass on to Ava to succeed in life. In November, the family was evicted once again and mom went to live in a car with then boyfriend. Ava was 17 with no home, no resources, no income and no parental support. She was afraid to ask for help. She wasn’t sure whom she could turn to or trust.

Fortunately for Ava, Dalisha was the one who sought her out. Dalisha noticed that Ava’s attendance would fluctuate from perfect to missing a week at a time. Dalisha learned of Ava’s situation and began building a relationship with her. With graduation on the horizon and college application deadlines fast approaching, Dalisha promptly began to provide the support Ava needed to remove each barrier, one by one.

Dalisha first started off with basic needs support of clothes, food and hygiene items. Once the initial basic needs were met, she connected Ava with Youth Care, a program that provided life skills coaching, helped her obtain her birth certificate so she could find employment, and took her to Jubilee Women’s Center, a non-profit that donates professional clothing to women.

Throughout these months, Ava struggled to come to school and her grades suffered. But, Ava remained optimistic and Dalisha did not give up on her. The next step was to ensure Ava had a path after high school. Dalisha helped Ava map out her post-secondary goals and assisted with her applications to a nursing program at a local community college. She also provided support to Ava’s mother by helping her navigate systems and connect her to housing agencies.

In the last month of school, Ava put all of her effort into graduating. She attended school regularly, turned in missed work and was able to pass all of her classes. Today, Ava is a high school graduate and has started a nursing program at Seattle Central Community College. Ava was one of three students to speak at High School graduation and she talked about all of her struggles throughout the year and how Dalisha supported her through her challenges to graduation day.

Ava is a strong, intelligent young woman who had to overcome many obstacles her final year of high school to graduate. But, with perseverance and support of a caring adult, Ava is on her way to a great career and future!