Growing up in Camden, Estefany always dreamed of making a difference for urban students. Through the network of devoted staff at United Way Impact Partner’s UrbanPromise, Estefany became a mentor, leader and role model among her peers. Now she is pursuing her lifelong goal of becoming a teacher, setting her on the path to being a leader in her community.
What were your dreams as a child? To become the first female president? Fly to the moon? Be a famous rock star?
For Estefany, her dream was to build a brighter community.
She had the drive to turn her vision into action but didn’t know where to start. That’s when a friend told her about UrbanPromise, a United Way-funded youth leadership and education program in Camden, New Jersey.
“I know it’s not perfect, but I love Camden, and I wanted to do something to help make a difference for kids headed down the wrong path. Camden can be a rough place to grow up, but education is the key to helping kids avoid crime and poverty,” she says.
Determined to do her part to help kids from her neighborhood avoid the streets, Estefany took a summer job at UrbanPromise, returning year after year. She discovered herself mentoring younger kids and encouraging them to find and follow their dreams. She honed her leadership skills and found a stable support system through the staff, who encouraged her through the college application process.
That support ultimately helped her find a way to achieve her biggest dream: a college education. “I always wanted to go to college and become a teacher, but I thought I’d need to put those dreams aside because I wouldn’t be able to afford it. But staff encouraged me, connected me with a scholarship opportunity, and I earned a full ride!” she shares. “I’ve had a 4.0 GPA for the past two semesters and I plan to make it three semesters in a row! I’m grateful to UrbanPromise – and United Way – for giving me the confidence to be a leader and providing me with a launching pad to my future. Because of them, I’ve found my purpose!”