Da’Shawna leaves her Tacoma home between 5:45 and 6 am Monday through Friday in order to arrive at school by its 8:45 am start.
Da’Shawna’s 30 mile-plus bus journey through thick traffic every morning and afternoon is far from what the normal high school student deals with, but that’s the sacrifice she’s made in order to spend her senior year at Franklin High School—the school she’s been attending since she was a freshman.
Unfortunately, being away from home for more than 12 hours a day has its repercussions. It doesn’t leave Da’Shawna much time for school work.
“It really gave me a big eye opener that I needed to stay on top of my grades,” Da’Shawna said. “Some of my grades have dropped because I’m waking up early. I’m getting home late. I’m not getting time to do my homework. I’m not in a stable environment where I can finish all the things I need to do.”
Through Seattle Goodwill’s Youth Year-Round Program (YYRP), she’s finding the increased stability she needs in order to thrive.
Last summer Da’Shawna was interning with Goodwill through the Seattle Youth Employment Program when Seattle Goodwill Youth Program Supervisor Alison Gerttula started learning Da’Shawna’s story and asked if she’d want to join the YYRP. After hearing positive feedback about the program from a friend, Da’Shawna agreed to join. She’d also been dealing with some tough times. Her grades were struggling, and there was no guarantee heading into her senior year that she’d be able to graduate.
But with some support from Seattle Goodwill’s Job Training and Education (JTE) staff, Da’Shawna is getting back on track and has found some of the stability she’s been searching for.
“It is like we are all one, big happy family,” said Da’Shawna of her experience in the YYRP so far. “(The staff) makes sure to go out of their way to make sure you are fine, doing what you need to do in life. They will push you and make sure you are on top of it.”
Da’Shawna’s grades have been improving, and after writing an appeal letter to her school’s administration, she’s now on track to graduate this spring.
JTE staff makes frequent visits to Franklin to check attendance and ensure Da’Shawna’s grades are where they need to be, and twice a week she visits Goodwill after school to get help with her homework.
“Sometimes I stay here late to get help on my homework and I get home late,” Da’Shawna said, “but knowing that I finished my work, I feel much better about it. I feel like I am on a good path. I am very determined to make it to the finish line. There may be some obstacles there and I might stumble, but I know Goodwill will be there.”