Karina B. struggled with some mental health issues that made going to a public school difficult. She was anxious around large groups and suffered from depression which exhausted her both emotionally and physically. “Learn4Life helped me finally face myself. Did I really want to spend my whole life going in circles? Or did I want to move forward with my life?” she explained. “I was given that extra support I needed to grow as an individual and do schoolwork at my own pace.”

She credits many of the Learn4Life-sponsored workshops that helped her develop social-emotional health and coping skills. Karina transformed into an eager and successful student and was offered a paid position as an alumni ambassador at her school to help assist and guide current students. During its College Week event, she shared her knowledge and experience about life after graduation, such as enrolling in college and juggling college classes with work.

“I’m proud that my interactions with students made them feel comfortable enough to talk to me,” she said. “I was really touched when a student at graduation thanked me in her speech for being someone who had helped her.”

Karina is attending Santa Barbara City College (SBCC), working toward an associate degree in Criminal Justice and plans to transfer to a four-year university to earn a bachelor’s in Criminology. She landed a job at SBCC’s security department working closely with the police department to ensure the campus is safe. Her plan is to continue in law enforcement and gain experience as a patrol officer and a homicide detective. She eventually wants to become a lawyer, but with some experience working in the criminal justice system first.

“Something I’ve been sharing with some of the students here is a lesson Learn4Life taught me – that everything will come at its given time. Your life won’t follow the same rhythm as those around you, but your own,” she said. “The moment you stop comparing your life to the lives of others, you will feel steadier and more accomplished. You will reach your milestones at your time, so don’t worry if it takes you longer than others.”

She reminds students to ask for help and to never feel ashamed of asking for extra support. She encourages them to take risks and step out of their comfort zone. “Take any opportunity given to you because you’ll make memories that way,” she says. “It’s better to live a moment of fear or embarrassment for trying something new, than to live with that regret that you didn’t take that chance to try.”

Written By:
Ann Abajian
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