Juliana entered E Nini Hassee (ENH) in 2017 when she was 15 years old. With a GPA of .87, a history with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, and a pattern of unhealthy relationships, her life was in turmoil. Partying and running away from home under the toxic influence of others, she isolated herself and pushed away the people who truly cared about her. Juliana carried a hopelessness about her future that characterized every decision she made.
“I came to ENH with no will to change my destructive behaviors,” she told us, but “after only a year of consistency and support I began to see my life in a new perspective. Eckerd provided me with the tools I needed, but more importantly, it showed me that ‘when there is a will, there is a way.’”
While with us at ENH, Juliana proudly earned 150 community service hours and several certifications. Through grade forgiveness and attention to her schoolwork, she re-engaged with her education and became a productive student. Over time she began to excel in new skills such as self-care, self-restraint, and communication. She gained the confidence to cope with life’s challenges and became a role model at camp, earning a spot within the Student Leadership Group.
It was while playing with the other girls’ hair at camp that a dream was born in Juliana’s life. “As I experimented with braiding and twists, I grew to love taking care of others in a way that made them feel good about themselves.” She was inspired to pursue cosmetology school. With this vision in her heart, Juliana returned to high school and graduated with a 3.5 GPA. Next, we welcomed her with open arms to Eckerd Connects’ Career Source Youth Program.
It is no understatement to say that Juliana has turned her life around, remaining employed and out of trouble. She began cosmetology school at Withlacoochee Technical College (WTC) this year with the support of mentors at ENH, in her community, and at her school to ensure she achieves the success of which she is capable.
“In no way have these past months in the cosmetology program been easy,” she told us, “I am most proud of contributing to subtle adjustments in how the school views and teaches textured hair because I speak up for what I believe in. Having a voice is one of the many skills I learned throughout my Eckerd journey.” Juliana plans to finish the program by mid-November 2022, and we are covering some of her tuition costs through a Success Award. She would like to intern at a local salon in Inverness and then use her field experience to transition to her own mobile business.
Juliana wrote these words in a recent thank you letter:
“Now here I am, over four years later, writing to Eckerd to thank them once again for their gracious support. In a time of need I decided to reach out and ask for the help that I so desperately needed. In return, all that was asked of me was simple, to put in the work and show my will to succeed… I am amazed and beyond grateful for the continuous investment Eckerd has bestowed upon me. I truly consider my relationship with Eckerd like that of a family and wanted to acknowledge the overwhelming sense of love and understanding they have continued to show me throughout my adolescent and now young adult life. Words can only say so much but I hope my will to grow and my role as a Samaritan in my community may reflect the values that Eckerd has upheld since its founding.”
Learn more about Camp E-Nini-Hassee or our Workforce Development programs below, or find a program near you.