Sitting on a panel for the Youth Prevention Violence Conference made Kayla Abunciz feel nervous. It would be the first time she spoke publicly about losing her mom to gang violence; but, Kayla gathered all her strength, leaned on the presence and encouragement of her Teen Success, Inc. Advocate, Corina De La Torre, and bravely shared her life experiences up to that point.
PARTICIPANT, TEEN SUCCESS, INC. SALINAS PROGRAM
Kayla, 17, is a young mom from Salinas, California. When Kayla was pregnant, she felt lost and that she needed more support because she didn't have that at home. Around the same time is when Kayla lost her mom.
She kept hearing about the Teen Success program through her school counselor and decided to try it out. “I thought, look at other girls, like me, that understand me. It made me feel less alone,” she said. Feeling a part of a group of her peers and Corina’s welcoming attitude convinced Kayla to stay. She’s now been with the program for about a year.
As part of Teen Success, Kayla's been able to explore her educational options during her one-on-one work with Corina. She’s planning to attend Hartnell College to study business and one day will become a successful entrepreneur in her hometown of Salinas. There are several other members in her Teen Success peer learning group that are already attending college, too, and that gives her a source of inspiration as well.
Kayla is very hard working. She can handle tough situations and she’s eager to be successful in life. Corina praises her down-to-earth attitude and desire to grow as a person and as a mom.
Participating in the panel at the Youth Prevention Violence Conference gave her a great sense of empowerment and the confidence to make a new story, a new life, for herself and her son. A step forward in healing after the loss of her mom and in becoming the woman and mother she wants to be.
“Never give up,” she said, “no matter how stressful or painful it gets because at the end it’s gonna be worth it.”
“Never give up, ” she said, “no matter how stressful or painful it gets because at the end it’s gonna be worth it.”
Photos courtesy of Kayla Abundiz