By Essence Scott
I was in the inaugural group of Triumphant Teens when the program first started over ten years ago in 2005. I knew very little about high school at the time; and I knew less about what to do when I graduated. The purpose of the program, originally implemented by HomeFront, is to give at-risk teens a vision of a life that includes college and mainstream employment and to prepare them for such opportunities.
I am the first in my family to graduate from high school—a fact that I am incredibly proud of. Had the Triumphant Teens program not been around, I feel that I would have dropped out of school at age seventeen, at the beginning of my senior year of high school.
My younger brother and sister were also Triumphant Teens. In the program, we prepared documents and applications for college, received help with our homework, and participated in job-readiness workshops. It was in this program that I created one of my first résumés.
This invaluable learning experience, along with my first job at HomeFront’s main office on Princeton Avenue and, later, at their Family Preservation Center (formerly at the Katzenbach School of the Deaf, now called HomeFront Family Campus on Celia Way in Ewing) and prepared me to work and socialize in a professional setting.
The program also helped prepare me for college. I am the first person in my family to attend college, and there was so much that I did not know at the time. In all honestly, I did not enjoy college as much as I probably should have because of my mental health; still, however, I am grateful for the experience and to the resources that I received that made my attendance possible.
In addition to résumé building and other professional development skills, the program taught me the importance of hard work and true grit and the rewards that come of this. I also learned this from my parents, who have worked tirelessly to provide for my siblings and me.
I learned how to come to work on time, how to dress for an interview, what to say at an interview. While a computer literacy class my freshman year of high school jumpstarted this all, I still needed to learn about other things with individuals who shared my experiences growing up.
While the majority of the students in my freshman year computer literacy class could seek help with their résumés from their parents and would have no problem getting a job, I could not. Triumphant Teens provided me with this advantage and filled the void.
To my knowledge, the Triumphant Teens program no longer exists; and this saddens me. There is a critical need for such programs for adolescents growing up in particularly challenging circumstances. In addition to providing them with the support to move forward with their academics, the program disperses important information and practical life skills related to ethics in the workplace, ré- sumé building, and SAT or ACT preparation, among others.
It provides teens with a safe, welcoming environment in which they can realize their goals and cultivate the educational, vocational, and relational skillsets that they need to achieve these. The Triumphant Teens program helped me tremendously in receiving the jobs that I have gotten over the years. Perhaps, more importantly, it has given me the confidence and motivation that to pursue these