Learning to lead through adversity

youth success story: Stephanie's determination

 A pleasant memory that stays with me is that whenever me and my siblings went to the community center, staff always recognized us. And they encouraged us to participate in programs and other activities.”

Setting her own course

“I used all the services provided by CI, like the doctors and the dentists. And even the insights [I learned] in psychology workshops,” says Stephanie, “remain important to me to this day.” For disadvantaged youth, gaining the resiliency to continue their journey in the face of adversity is a vital trait. Thankfully, Stephanie found that reserve within her.

As an adolescent, she took on leadership responsibilities, like teaching Zumba classes to other sponsored children and youth, helping them improve their physical fitness. Stephanie wishes she could do more in terms of supporting the organization that helped her get where she is today, a successful youth graduate.

As Stephanie began her teenage years, she became more and more involved in positive, skill-building activities at her community center.

Stephanie enrolled in employment programs in Jalisco just as she was starting her professional studies in marketing. It also happened to overlap with the pandemic shutdowns. She had been studying and working part-time in a restaurant to pay for tuition and other things. Stephanie lost the job. It was devastating.

Stephanie felt that her possibilities for a better future were also shuttered. “When everything closed down,” she says, “it felt like any opportunity to keep developing myself was gone. I lost motivation.”

The small amount of income she had been earning made a significant difference in the family's meager budget. It helped Stephanie pay for her tuition, transportation fees and the occasional article of new clothing. Although it was a frightening time adding to the difficulty of making ends meet, the resiliency she found in Emotional Well-Being courses eventually helped her see a gift amid the crisis.

This gave me the opportunity to focus on my career and CI's employment programs. I received training, I oriented myself, and I even had the opportunity to learn more about myself at a professional level. I think it is of vital importance to know the strengths you have and what you can do.”

Having easy (and free) access to computers and the internet, along with gaining tips for improving her résumé, helped Stephanie land a good job.

“It was a great experience,” adds Stephanie. “I learned how to create my résumé and how to present myself in a job interview. It also opened my mind to see what I wanted to do and create my own path.”


Stephanie turned to Children International during particularly difficult times in her life. Programs like Emotional Well-Being and people like Flor (above) helped Stephanie find her way.

Not backing down — even amid a global crisis

After things began to open following the pandemic, Stephanie managed to get a job in a bakery, as an assistant. Although thankful for the work, she felt as though she’d strayed from her career path, and her dream. This began to gnaw at her.

“I decided to approach Flor (CI-Mexico’s Employability Facilitator) to get more specific advice, independent of the courses we had already taken,” says Stephanie. “Flor advised me on what I needed to work on, what things I could do to improve my employment prospects. I also reworked my résumé, so it would stand out. Then I applied for jobs related to my marketing career.”

It worked: Stephanie received two job offers. One came on the same day as her interview, and she accepted it. “Both employers knew,” she says, “that I was a young woman who already had experience in terms of employability, who knew her skills and what she wanted in the future.”

With your support, we expanded our Emotional Well-Being Program significantly over the past few years. Responding to the needs of those we serve, this program began as a pilot project of 300 participants in 2020. It grew to nearly

51,000 participants in 2021.

Grit and gratitude in action

Today, Stephanie’s official title is Community Manager, handling her company’s social media communications. And even though she’s still taking classes toward her degree, Stephanie is taking on greater responsibilities, like helping expand the business into another country.

“I am a student who has not even finished her degree,” she says, “but a student who is leading a large-scale, international project. I am very grateful to sponsors and to those who have worked or still work for CI. I see all the good they do, and I believe even more could be done.”

Stephanie’s story embodies the very spirit of collaboration, proving that we can all go a lot further together than any one person can go alone. Her strength and inspiration is contagious, and we can’t wait to see where she goes next …

Stephanie and Flor strategized together and came up with a winning plan.

Stephanie is now helping lead a multinational project for her employer and she couldn't be happier — or more thankful.


May 4, 2023

Congratulations Stephanie and Best Wishes for continued success!
Ann Ward

May 4, 2023

Wow, what a great story. It shows what can be achieved with a community of support.

May 4, 2023

You go girl!

May 5, 2023

How wonderful that this opportunity is present for the children of CI! Thank you, CI, for providing the skills and encouragement our children need to feel capable and confident about what they can achieve in the world. xoxo

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