School Outreach Coordinator, Ariassa Wilson, standing with student Jaliyah at Kilo Middle School.

Jaliyah entered into Kilo Middle School as a 6th grader carrying a massive amount of weight from her childhood. Despite all that she had gone through prior to 6th grade, she managed to wear a smile on her face, as she fought to be confident in herself.

Jaliyah had moved to Federal Way to live with her grandmother and brothers, and Jaliyah was dealing with the loss of close relationships with her parents, as they both struggled to get their lives in order. Jaliyah was referred to our School Outreach Coordinator, Ariassa Wilson, so she could assist her with the transition in life; not just as a middle school student overcoming these challenges, but also as a young African American woman.

Over the last three years, Ariassa has supported Jaliyah in multiple ways. She has been a part of W.O.A.M (Woman on a Mission), learning how to be a young woman with strong character. Jaliyah’s leadership potential really shined during her time spent in W.O.A.M. She became very outspoken on her thoughts, grounded in her beliefs, and had the courage to open up about her challenges she is facing outside of school. Through this program, Ariassa’s mission was to help Jaliyah develop as an independent woman with strong character.

Jaliyah and Ariassa would talk about Jaliyah’s past, and specifically how it does not have to define who she will be in the future. Ariassa assisted her in her financial literacy development and taught her how to break generational poverty by taking control of her future finances.

Jaliyah has grown immensely as a leader through her efforts in the classroom and in all of her sports. She has begun to take initiative and responsibility for her actions and has learned how to realign her thought process to make better decisions. During Kilo’s Martin Luther King assembly this year, Jaliyah took on an important leadership role, helping keep students together, performing a speech, and reciting the black excellence of Serena Williams.

Through her efforts and growth, Jahliyah was able to land her first job this summer. She will be working with the department of Ecology. Her hard work, perseverance and determination in middle school has prepared her for the freedom she will gain this summer, and for her transition into high school. Ariassa is confident that Jaliyah will break chains, barriers and the glass ceiling over her head that was placed by unfortunate circumstances. She could not be more proud of Jaliyah and the way she stayed the course. Ariassa firmly believes she will continue to grow and be a phenomenal black women, who leads other young girls and helps them through their challenges.