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Sometimes adversity can lead to opportunity, and eventually, success.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Emily was attending Pasadena City College, working on her certificate in Child Development.  Even with the support of her Educational Coach, she found it difficult to meet new people or talk with those she didn’t know.  “Meeting new people was difficult.  I was kind of scared talking to people I didn’t know,” she recalled.  So what would happen when her in-person classes and College to Career programming stopped, and everything became virtual?

Watching a screen for long periods of time was difficult at first. Once she overcame the initial challenges of adapting to the screen-based environment of Zoom, Emily became more comfortable.  She found that having her coach with her helped her stay focused on her classwork.  She appreciated the opportunity to talk about her upcoming assignments and writing her goals during the week.  She even used the online classes to work toward achieving her high school diploma, and now has just three more classes to take to obtain it!

The online College to Career program inspired Emily to try new things, including improv and dance, that helped her emerge from her shell.  She’s taken modern dance, hip hop, and jazz dance classes, which she plans to continue as a hobby.  No longer reluctant to speak up, Emily says, “I realized when you get to know people, it’s fun.  I learned how to set boundaries with friends and am learning more of what I am comfortable with.”  With her newfound confidence, Emily also has become the go-to volunteer to read out loud during interest group workshops and uses the Zoom chat to offer her input and congratulate her peers for their work.

Emily looks forward to returning to her in-person classes and College to Career workshops soon:  “I can’t wait to be back safely.  I miss being on campus, going on outings, and being in the community as a college student!”

Emily’s mom and supporter of AbilityFirst also said “I am very impressed with C2C and even more so by how the program has been running during a pandemic. Coaches are patient to guide students to get comfortable with virtual classes and have created different interest groups so each student will benefit from choosing the one that fit their schedule and wants. C2C provided the much-needed structure and support for students’ wellbeing during this very challenging time.”

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