Recent high school graduate Jennifer Lemus has a lot to be proud of this summer, nearly two years after arriving in the U.S. from Guatemala. She has a healthy 1-year-old son, Ian, and she has overcome a range of challenges to earn her diploma from Roosevelt High School.

“Dealing with setbacks hasn’t been easy, but I’ve learned that talking to someone can make all the difference,” Jennifer says. “Just having someone to share your struggles with can lighten the load and provide new perspectives.”

Shine Together connected her with other moms she could talk to, and also helped her address the many challenges that arise when trying to study while also raising a baby (from getting around without a car to getting diapers). She’s grateful to her school navigator for alerting her to the “amazing community” at Shine and the “genuine care” she has received from other moms and her advocate. Her advocate’s “consistent encouragement and care have helped me stay focused on my goals,” Jennifer says.

Going After the Next Goal

With the high school goal checked off, Jennifer is looking ahead for how she can build a better future for herself and—her biggest motivation—Ian. “I am determined to keep growing and learning,” she says. Ultimately, she wants to become a nurse; she views the in-demand profession as a way to make a positive impact in her community.

Feeling hopeful and determined, Jennifer has the support of Shine to move forward on her next goal. “My journey has been challenging, but it has also been incredibly rewarding,” she says. “With the support of Shine Together and my advocate, I am ready to take on the future and make my dreams a reality.”

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Shine will match all donations up to $15,000, thanks to the generous support from the Chandna Foundation, facilitated by our board member Aarti Chandna.


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