Jillian McNeal was like a lot of teens when she entered TeenQuest – shy and lacking communication skills. By the end of her time in the program, though, she had gained confidence she’d never had before.
McNeal graduated from Flint Southwestern Classical Academy in 2014 and her path to where she is today began with TeenQuest.
“I was doing the Summer Youth Initiative Program in the summertime, so I was getting jobs at schools but never what I wanted to do,” says McNeal. “When I found out about the Flint Healthcare Employment Opportunities Program (FHEO) and the STRIVE Program I was like, ‘cool, that’s the path that I’m going down in the medical field.’ They give you the opportunities and tools that you need to get into those types of jobs.”
After her graduation, McNeal applied for the FHEO program and went through the interview process.
To get her career heading in the right direction, she also went through STRIVE, a two-week program that helps young people with training and support as they move forward toward their goals. This support gave McNeal the confidence to pursue her goal of becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).
What does a typical day look like for you?
I am a home care CNA, so I go from house to house to different clients. I will give them their medicines, take their vitals, make them some meals sometimes, or do light housekeeping if they need me. Just anything to make their living at home easier to be independent so they don’t have to go into a nursing home.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m in school for nursing. I want to get my Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) certificate first and then finish my nursing degree.
What is your favorite Summer Youth Initiative memory?
When we did a community service project. They sent my group to the Humane Society where we were taking care of the animals.
What advice can you offer current and former students of Summer Youth Initiative?
What helped me was making a list of my goals, like seeing it in front of me and being able to look at it every day to see what my goals were in life and what I needed to do to attain those goals.
What is your proudest moment since TeenQuest?
Finally getting a job in the medical field because it’s not as easy as you think.
TeenQuest and Summer Youth Initiative are made possible through the generous support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.