When you first meet Victoria and Dhameer, you’d think you were among longtime friends, but, in fact, they just met today.
That’s one of the draws of our Seeing Youth Succeed (SYS) program – peer-to-peer support and immediate friendships. Both teens are extremely bright and share ambitious dreams.
Dhameer, a high school junior, joined SYS last week, but Victoria, a sophomore, has been involved since participating in WorkReady, a city-wide initiative led by the Philadelphia Youth Network which pairs city youth with summer jobs. Along with working the traditional nine-to-five, she attended ECS’ professional development workshops, which came complete with career mentors to support the teens during their first work experiences.
“It taught me the little stuff,” Victoria said. Her boss was tough on her, but “she gave me insight. [It] made me have to persevere.” While enjoying their summer vacations, Victoria’s friends would try to get her to hang out, but she would decline because “[you] got to do what you got to do,” as she puts it. The same can be said for her involvement in SYS. “I really enjoy coming here. It’s not a hassle for me to get up on a Saturday morning. I’m really connected to this program. I feel like this is my little job … my duty.”
Dhameer said, “My main focus was on being a paid intern, but then I got here and bonded with all the other kids. And today, meeting her (Victoria) … she really brought me out of my shell.”
Dhameer is starting to look at colleges to attend, and at the top of his list are Julliard and Chapman University. “I like the arts in general, but dance is my calling,” he said. “My end goal … is to own my own dance studio and then branch off from a dance studio into a performing arts high school.”
As a talented athlete, Victoria hopes her favorite sport allows her to travel. “I want to play soccer in college … [and] go to the University of Seattle,” she said. “My Godsister inspired me to do a lot. She plays soccer, too. All these colleges want her … I tell her all the time, ‘I want to be like you!’ She’s such an inspiration.”
With her ambition, there’s no doubt that Victoria will be just like her role model. In fact, and better yet, Victoria will be just like Victoria. And Dhameer, he’ll be just like Dhameer. Saturdays at ECS are better with these two.