By Para Los Niños Team

January 30, 2024

Karina’s Journey

Karina was born in the United States (U.S.), but her family made the difficult decision to return to Mexico when she turned one due to financial and housing instability.  When she was 17, Karina returned to the U.S. alone to complete her high school diploma. She couch-surfed with a few relatives until she could save enough to get her own apartment. A former high school counselor referred her to Para Los Ninos (PLN) for support with education and career services. Karina hesitated to join the program but enrolled immediately after touring PLN Youth Workforce Services and meeting the staff. Karina faced challenges that prevented her from succeeding in school and work. She disclosed that she was renting her own apartment and was at risk of losing it due to being underemployed and not earning enough to sustain housing. Karina also expressed interest in pursuing a trade or enrolling in community college.

Karina’s PLN Career Advisor informed her of our LA:RISE program, which could provide her additional support. She explored several trade programs and decided to enroll in the Certified Nursing Program with one of our academic partners in September 2023. She had to resign shortly after starting the CNA program because her employer was not flexible with her school schedule. Karina had to make this difficult decision because she understood she needed to complete the training to secure a living wage job and create stability.

PLN provided Karina with a paid internship program through PLN’s LA:RISE program, which offered her the flexibility to continue with her CNA training and allowed her to earn income to cover living expenses. She was placed at Kei-Ali Los Angeles Health Care Center, where she could put into practice what she had learned in school. She loved her worksite so much that she decided to apply for permanent employment. Karina’s housing situation was still unstable because she needed to earn more through her internship to sustain her apartment. Her PLN Career Advisor decided to apply with one of our funders to provide her with financial relief. Her application was approved, and our funder provided $4,000 to support her with two months of rent, gift cards for additional attire, and essentials for success with her internship. She passed her state CNA exam in November 2023, thanks to the support of her career advisor and PLN resources.

Her LA:RISE Internship Worksite, Kei-Ai Los Angeles Health Care Center, loved her so much that they offered her full-time employment as a CNA. Today, Her Karina is working to enroll at Glendale Community College so that she can work toward completing the requisites for the LVN-RN program. Karina is excited about being closer to earning her bachelor’s degree in nursing.

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