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Meet Goodwill Youth Program Participant and Intern Nika

January 10, 2021

Posted in: Community, Job Training & Education, Youth Programs, and Student Stories

Seattle Goodwill is committed to investing in community youth. Through Goodwill’s Youth Aerospace, Youth Maritime and Youth Year-Round programs, high school seniors gain invaluable mentorship, career exploration, and opportunity they might not otherwise be afforded. Last summer, with the support of a Port of Seattle grant, Seattle Goodwill offered 60 youth summer internships.

Nika has learned first-hand Seattle Goodwill’s desire to change lives by giving opportunity and support to people from underserved communities. She made clear the impact Goodwill has had in her life.

“Goodwill helped me turn around my life,” Nika said. “They turned around this high school student who didn’t know what she was going to do, what career she was going into or even if she was going to go to college. They turned my life around because they made that opportunity seem possible.”

Nika, who recently graduated from Everett’s Mariner High School, joined Goodwill’s Youth Aerospace Program after her junior year in high school. Nika has always wanted to go on to college but she wasn’t sure if she could overcome the financial barriers created by decades of economic inequities for communities of color. That changed when she connected with Goodwill.

“The idea that I wouldn’t receive enough (college) funds scared me,” Nika explained. “I felt like there was a point in high school where I started going downhill because it was just dreadful to glance into the future. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I didn’t have the motivation because I live in a difficult environment and it brought me down all the time. I felt like I had no opportunity or no way get out of it.”

Working with Goodwill’s Youth Aerospace Program and Job Training and Education (JTE) staff gave Nika hope that she could attend college and she was encouraged to pursue a STEM career. This summer, she further developed her skills by interning with Goodwill JTE staff.

Nika spent her summer and fall mentoring first-year Youth Aerospace Program students at Goodwill’s Marysville youth training facility and at Everett Community College. Nika honed her communication skills and helped students develop welding, computer aided design, and composite skills. The internship came at the perfect time. The economic impact of COVID-19 had just cost Nika her job.

“The internship was pretty amazing,” Nika said. “Before this job, I did get laid off because they could no longer afford me, so I did face the whole missing the social environment. I was going crazy. Having this opportunity to communicate with people again made me alright for a while.”

Nika is enrolled full-time at Everett Community College, where she’s studying to become a mechanical engineer. She’s eager to start working on aircraft and is motivated to help make aerospace more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

“I believe this internship offers a lot of help for the lower-income students – not for the students who have the highest grades or have the most amount of money or already have a place in college,” Nika said. “Goodwill speaks for students who are struggling in an environment they don’t think they can get out of. It’s good to give an opportunity for others who need it, and Goodwill does that.”

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