This week, we’ll be sharing with you one of YOTO’s newest staff members: Monika Cabrera! Monika is one of four Program Coordinators who work one-on-one with the students enrolled in Youth On Their Own. Learn a little more about Monika and how she came to become one of YOTO’s most passionate team members!

“I graduated from the University of Arizona in May 2016 with a Bachelors of Science degree in Community Education and a minor in Special Education. Throughout college, I worked part-time for Jacobs YMCA in their after school program and created curriculum for their summer camp. Throughout my time at the UofA, I also had various internships where I worked with Literacy Connects, Grijalva Elementary School, Apollo Middle School, and Borton Primary Magnet School.

I first started getting involved with Youth On Their Own as an AmeriCorps member through Arizona Serve. My title was Student Services Navigator, and my main project was to contact with and support students who were flagged as “at-risk” because they had a GPA lower than a 2.0. I would meet with them to create an improvement plan and connect them with services such as summer school or weekend academy to ensure that they were back on track to graduate and could start receiving their full stipend check from YOTO. Once the school year ended, I worked closely with Jacki Vaughan-Chaldy (YOTO’s College & Career Development Coordinator) to contact over 100 graduates to guide them in their next steps after high school.

I am now excited to serve as a full-time Program Coordinator because I really respect what the YOTO program does for the students it serves. My passion is to work with youth and support their growing and learning. I am drawn to working with communities that are disenfranchised and underserved because I grew up in that type of community here in Tucson. I had the privilege to go to a high school where I was supported and go on to become a first-generation university graduate in my family… and I want to give that opportunity to other students. My favorite part of working at YOTO is that I get to support students who – although I can’t change their individual situations or their childhood – I can help positively impact their adulthood and future.”

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