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Palmetto Youth Connections Success Story: Keren Nelson
7/23/2014 3:37:26 PM

Keren Nelson
By Amanda Wagner

Keren Nelson, like many teens, struggled to find motivation in high school. During her 10th grade year, she found herself losing focus at school, falling behind on assignments, and skipping school. In an attempt to catch up on credits, she enrolled in night school, but again, she struggled to keep up with assignments, fell behind, and ultimately made the decision to drop out of high school and move to New York to prove her independence.

While in New York, Keren enrolled in an online school that allowed her to work towards earning her High School Diploma. Like many young adults, she found the "virtual curriculum" difficult to self-motivate and keep up with the online coursework. Although Keren did not complete the virtual school curriculum successfully, she learned that she really benefited from the stable environment she had at home and decided to move back to Summerville.

Once Keren returned to Summerville she found it difficult to find a job that paid above minimum wage without a high school degree. In that moment she realized, she didn't want just any "job", she wanted a career. And in order to get that "career," she knew she was going to have to finish what she had started several years ago.

Keren enrolled in GED classes at Summerville Adult Learning center and quickly learned about the services that Palmetto Youth Connections had to offer and decided to enroll in the program.

Keren Nelson worked hard in class, but would get discouraged when her test scores were slow to improve, "I would get discouraged seeing my scores," Keren said. Keren appreciated the support from her GED instructor, Ms. Baughman, as well as her Palmetto Youth Connections Career Coach, Mrs. Rebekah Wilkes, who reminded her that if she stays focused and committed she would reach her goal.

In December 2013 Keren's hard work paid off and she passed the GED test. She had finally reached her long term goal of earning her high school degree.

With her high school credential in place, she was able to participate in other services that PYC could offer in order to help make her more employable. She completed the 3-day, work readiness workshop called Career Smart and she participated in a Work Experience with the Dorchester County Prosperity Center where she gained skills as an administrative assistant.

Keren stated, "I learned customer service skills, how to interact with customers, as well as other staff members and coworkers. I really came out of my shell."Keren continued, "Being on the phone during my work experience, helped me learn how to interact, professionally. I learned so many things that I use now at my current job."

In the end, Keren learned that it doesn't matter how long it takes, as long as you finish.

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