Alidia Hall was excited and hopeful for a chance reclaim her education. Alidia’s interest in YouthBuild Philly was sparked instantly when she learned about YouthBuild from her older sister. After getting pregnant with her first daughter and having to take care of her ill grandmother, Alidia made the hard decision to discontinue her education at her previous high school. For Alidia, YouthBuild signified a second chance in more ways than one. Once she turned 18 years old, she considered herself ready to take her next steps towards her education.
In Fall 2017, Alidia came to YouthBuild excited, happy and nervous for the journey ahead. At the time she was six months pregnant with her second child, but determined to push through and complete the six days of Mental Toughness Training. On the final day of Mental Toughness, the Class of 2018 made a powerful declaration of reclaiming their education as they marched down Broad Street with signs telling everyone in Philadelphia about their bold milestone. Even though Alidia was tired from the march as an expectant mother, she was beaming with pride and a sense of accomplishment. She completed the first step to changing her life for the better.
In Fall 2017, Alidia started the school year off strong. However, once she gave birth to her daughter that November the journey became a bit more difficult. She went on maternity leave and fell significantly behind in a lot of her classes with the added responsibilities of being a new parent. It became impossible for Alidia to finish the school year with all of the missed classes and assignments. “Once I realized that I couldn’t finish the year I was hurt because I really wanted to finish and move on,” Alidia says.
Despite the feelings of disappointment, Alidia wasn’t going to give up. “I wanted a fresh start,” she said – and was ambitious and determined to reapply for YouthBuild’s Class of 2019. “This is something that I needed to accomplish; I’m looking forward to walking across that (graduation) stage.” This feeling was reinforced when she watched the Class of 2018 (Alidia’s initial class) walk across the stage during her second Mental Toughness Training. “It could have been me,” she remembers thinking – but was inspired to seize this second opportunity to be the first of her 8 siblings to earn a diploma.
Alidia started the 2018-2019 school year with a fresh vision for her career and future goals. During her first year at YouthBuild Philly, Alidia enrolled in the Child Development Associate (CDA) program to learn about the best practices of childcare. As a new mother, she applied what she learned to her own parenting. “I learned about different daycares, how to discipline and teach my child using words, and I was able to share parenting information with my daughter’s father,” Alidia explains. This year, Alidia decided on a different career path and enrolled in the Business Administration Scholar (BAS) program. With a passion for computers, Alidia now feels like she can pursue her passion and dream of earning a degree in Computer Engineering at Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology.
On the BAS track, Alidia has blossomed as a student and as a person. “I am a very shy and quiet person by nature. As a BAS student I’m becoming more outspoken. My instructor Ms. Melissa is helping me to overcome that obstacle,” Alidia says. Her favorite memory as a BAS student thus far was presenting a group project during orientation where she had to pitch and explain a product to her class. Her group worked together to pitch a S’more toaster and persuade their peers to buy it. Her group won.
Aside from the academics, one of the aspects that Alidia truly appreciates about her YouthBuild experience is the sense of family. “When I was on maternity leave Ms. Doris, my mentor, reached out to Old Navy and nominated me and my family for clothing donations,” Alidia says. When she came back from maternity leave in December, she was surprised with three boxes filled with clothing, toys and books for her and her daughters. “Christmas was good. I am not the type of person to ask for help unless it is a last resort. It meant a lot that YouthBuild helped me without me asking for support. It’s really a family,” Alidia explains.
“I am very glad that I reapplied. So far, so good,” says Alidia. Currently, she has been doing very well and has been feeling motivated more than ever. “I am more focused. This year feels different,” says Alidia. She is right. As a member of the Class of 2019, she is dedicated to “showing up and showing out”, which means coming to do the work and bringing her best. “When I show up and show out, I am an engaged participant in my classes. This year feels like a refresher. I’ve used my second year to my advantage and I can show my classmates how things work around YouthBuild,” Alidia explains.
Sometimes, second time’s a charm.