Graduating to the Next Step

YST’s Transitions program just celebrated an assortment of graduations of its clients. During the 2016-17 school year, 15 young people graduated from high school, alternative high school, tech school or an extended internship.

“The Transitions program averages 40 residents at any given time,” says Jordan Westbrook, YST’s Transitions Coordinator. “Close to 90 percent of our residents are involved in work or education. These recent graduates in particular are perfect examples of how the Transitions program provides much more than just housing. The support we provide young people to enter into productive adulthood is evident and clear through their accomplishments.”

Chasity is part of the most recent group of graduates. She recently completed her Associate’s at Tulsa Community College, and will enroll at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater this fall. She credits her participation in the Transitions program with changing her outlook on the future.

“It’s made a very positive impact on my life,” she says. “Before, I thought I wouldn’t be able to handle college. I had too much family stress. Too much of this and too much of that. The case managers helped me learn how to alleviate a lot of family stress from not setting boundaries. They helped me work through some things.”

Chasity’s situation wasn’t an uncommon one. During her adolescence, she dealt with home instability and the absence of parents. She took on responsibility for her younger family members, both financially and in terms of caretaking.

She was on the verge of living in her car when she applied to the transitions program.

“I remembered YST from Workforce. I’d visited there when I was 16,” Chasity says. “They got me in really quick, which I was happy about. I didn’t have anywhere else to go.”

Her new apartment afforded her a “place of calm.”

“Before, if I wanted any type of calmness, I had to go for a walk down by the river,” she says. “There were nights I didn’t want to go home because I didn’t want to deal with the stress. When I got in the program, everything calmed down for me. It encouraged me to go back to college.”

Now, she’s ready to take the next step. She’s looking for places to live in Stillwater, and plans to major in Marketing. She plans to someday own a business and has a lot of ideas about what kind. “I want to do something I’m passionate about and enjoy.”

She is grateful for what she got out of the Transitions program.

“If you want to be successful. If you want to do better and put yourself in a better position, you’ll benefit from the program. They have so many resources. Once you get a job, you can save so much money. If you had to pay for your own place, you’d be living paycheck to paycheck. You have the opportunity to set yourself up for the future.

“They encourage you when you’re down. If you don’t know what direction you want to go, they won’t make the choice for you, but they’ll help you figure it out. The YST staff, what we have offered to us, it’s a kind of security. It gives me someone to go to if I don’t know what to do.”

Jordan describes Chasity as the perfect Transitions program participant.

“She was a little lost, and searching for stability and support,” says Jordan. “The program was able to provide her with much more than just housing. She utilized all the resources TLP offers.

“Chasity is helpful to other youth in the program. She makes them feel welcome and supported. She has a strong relationship not just with her case manager, April, but with all the Transitions program staff. It’s not uncommon for anyone who happens to be working that day to come out and greet her.

“She’s a perfect example of how the Transitions program can provide youth with the support needed to eventually begin their journey as a productive adult.”