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wraparound YOUTH partner | polk county

 

Stephanie was born in Silverton to young parents who came to the United States to give their daughter a better life. She and her younger siblings grew up in the Salem-Keizer area. Their parents split up when Stephanie was young, leaving her mom to be a single parent to three kids. Watching her young mother have to parent three kids by herself ultimately gave Stephanie a lot of motivation to do whatever she could so that she wouldn't have to live that life.

Stephanie was a straight-A student and involved in all of the school activities until the summer before she started high school. Stephanie's mom remarried years before, but that was the year her mom gave birth to a baby boy, and their family became homeless as they struggled to make ends meet. Stephanie started spiraling downward and stopped going to school. Her stress at home was affecting her more than anything, and she didn't see the purpose of going to school when her teachers and the faculty didn't understand the kind of barriers she was facing. For Stephanie, the barriers were so high that it was better to ignore them than to try and go over them.

Stephanie soon realized that she was setting an example for her siblings and that one day, they were going to follow in her footsteps. She knew she had to make a change, so she moved to a school that could better fit her needs. She started getting good grades again and even got involved in extracurricular activities, but there was still something that was controlling her life - her anxiety. Stephanie self-medicated because she didn't know how to tell her mom due to the taboo nature of mental health in her culture.

Although those choices ultimately led to even more bad choices, Stephanie was still doing very well in school. She was able to graduate with a 4.0 GPA and was accepted to her dream university. While at college, Stephanie found out she was pregnant at only 18 years old, and her life's direction changed. She left college to have a safe pregnancy, but after the baby was born, she suffered from postpartum depression and continued anxiety. Fortunately, she was able to find resources for young moms and start working on her mental health. Fast forward to a year after the baby was born, Stephanie had returned to college. Her little boy had given her all the motivation she ever needed and completely changed her life for the better. Stephanie was interested in criminal justice and psychology, so that's what she decided to study.

One day while working at a job she was no longer happy in, she found an open position with Youth Era and knew right away that was where she belonged. Stephanie loves her job because she can be for youth what she wished she had growing up. Her work has not only helped expand her knowledge but also improve her mental health. Knowing that she has a team of coworkers to back her up is the best feeling ever. Her years with Youth Era have been the best of her life. In that time, she also gave birth to a second baby boy.

Since Stephanie has two small children, her favorite activities include going to parks, shopping for baby clothes, and anything that involves her kids. In her free time, she likes to watch YouTube videos and play with her makeup.