Youth On Their Own students really showed us what it meant to persevere this year! Class of 2021 seniors faced additional challenges because of the pandemic, but thanks to their persistence, many were able to achieve their graduation dreams and take that special walk across the stage. Kris from Walden Grove High School is among YOTO’s graduates this year and shared his inspiring story with us.

For a large part of the school year, Kris’ classes were virtual. “I disliked remote learning greatly, there is nothing that compares to being able to sit in class and actually learn something,” he shared and added, “[remote learning] made school a thousand times harder in my opinion.”

Another significant challenge Kris faced halfway through the school year was becoming homeless. “I had to deal with an enormous amount of stress as a result,” he explained. Not to be deterred despite the circumstances, Kris was able to receive much-needed monthly financial assistance, emotional support, and guidance from YOTO, all of which provided him with the resources he needed to focus on finishing high school.

Luckily, Walden Grove was eventually able to allow students back in school and Kris was able to finish his senior year in person!

“The YOTO staff and my Program Coordinator, Brian, have helped to restore my faith in the future. I am very optimistic when I think of the future, I really do believe that I have a chance to make it!”

Kris received his high school diploma on May 20th! The physically distanced graduation ceremony took place on the Walden Grove football field. Now officially a graduate, Kris plans to attend the University of Arizona to study business while working his way through school to build a secure foundation for himself.

We are so excited and happy for this amazing young man and have no doubt he will have a bright future ahead! Kris left us with this message on what he has learned about paying it forward over the past year:

“After becoming a YOTO participant, I started to grow the feeling of giving back. I need to help others the same way that I was helped. So, THANK YOU for everything you’ve done and everything you’ll continue to do [for youth experiencing homelessness]!”

To Kris and all Class of 2021 graduates who overcame obstacles and showed us their resilience this year, congratulations! We wish you boundless success!

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