Joey’s Story


By Para Los Niños Team

November 14, 2023

When Joey began experiencing anxiety and depression in middle school, he made the decision to drop out of school. For five years Joey says, he “was consumed by sadness, mainly struggling with social anxiety, making it challenging to interact with and trust people.”

However, there was a turning point in Joey’s life where he realized he couldn’t continue in that state. He decided to return to school and enrolled at the East Los Angeles Occupational Center (ELOAC) to earn his high school diploma. Initially unsure whether to pursue a GED or the High School Equivalency Test (HISET), Joey connected with Mari, a counselor from PLN’s Youth Workforce Services (YWS) who visited ELOAC. With Mari’s assistance, he made the decision to earn his high school equivalency credentials through the HISET.

Joey was afraid that being absent from school for five years would make it difficult for him to pass the various subtests of the HISET. However, much to his surprise, he quickly passed the tests. Filled with inspiration to attend community college, Joey reached out to Mari for support. She helped him apply for financial aid and guided him through the course registration process.

Today, Joey has obtained his sociology associate degree from East Los Angeles College and has transferred to Cal State Los Angeles. Joey is adapting well to Cal State LA, thanks in large part to the Summer Youth Employment Program. This program assists newly enrolled college students gain practical experience including networking opportunities and familiarity with the campus. The Summer Youth Employment Program is supported by PLN’s Youth Workforce Services and Cal State LA’s EPIC program. Joey says, “The Summer Youth Program has been invaluable in acquainting me with the resources available on campus and enhanced my networking opportunities.”

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