Irene Medina, graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School this year, an accomplishment that required overcoming many obstacles. Irene referred herself to Communities In Schools during her sophomore year because she had been struggling with aggressive behavior, anger and depression; she had experienced deaths in her family; her family was struggling financially; and she had health concerns, including drug use.
Over the 2 ½ years that our School Outreach Coordinator, Soraia Francisco, worked with Irene, she provided her with school supplies and basic needs items, such as food, clothing, and hygiene supplies. Soraia created an after-school anger management group, bringing in Valley Cities Counselors, to provide professional mental health and behavior Intervention services for Irene and other students struggling with anger management. Irene participated in the CIS Lunch Bunch, for students wanting to work on life and social skills. Additionally, Irene had extreme anxiety participating in normal gym class with her peers, so during Irene’s junior year, Soraia secured a donated gym membership, and worked out with Irene twice a week so that Irene could earn her PE credits needed to graduate.
Irene’s junior year was the first time she had passed all of her classes and was on track to graduate, and attributed that in part to all of the services she was getting from Communities In Schools. She even spoke at the Communities In Schools of Washington Mardi Gras Fundraiser, telling her story of overcoming barriers to her success. During her senior year, Irene struggled to balance school and her job. As her last semester at TJHS approached, she was very behind in her work, and came incredibly close to dropping out of school. Soraia relentlessly encouraged Irene not to give up, and worked with her on how to balance school and work. Despite all of the obstacles, Irene persevered and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School! Irene plans to attend Charter College’s Medical Assistant Program.