May is the month of graduations across the nation and a truly special time for young people walking across the stage to receive their diplomas. New Pathways for Youth had a multitude of reasons to celebrate this month, as the youth development program saw 22 participants graduate from high schools across the Valley.
New Pathways for Youth is a youth-focused organization for young people experiencing poverty and four times the adversity of other youth. New Pathways for Youth guides these young people through a holistic, research-based development program and 1:1 mentoring within community groups.
In 2022, New Pathways for Youth (NPFY) had 286 young people in the program, which serves youth from early teens to young adults. Through the NPFY program, these youth are given guidance to help them navigate through challenges and prepare for an impactful life. Throughout the history of the program, 95 percent of the NPFY participants graduate from high school, and nearly 80 percent go on to post-secondary education or training programs.
“Graduating from high school while facing adversity is not easy,” said New Pathways for Youth President and CEO Dr. Karen Johnson. “I am so proud of how these young people have overcome obstacles and made strong decisions about the future they see for themselves.”
NPFY held two celebrations to honor the 2022 graduates. The celebrations were open to all NPFY participants and featured games, refreshments and a panel discussion with the graduates where they discussed their future plans and how NPFY helped put them on the right track to realize those plans.
The NPFY program continues to make a dramatic difference for people like Nayeli, a 2022 high school graduate. Nayeli came into the New Pathways program two years ago. She was very shy and had a lot of anxiety about talking in front of other people she didn’t know very well. While working with her mentor and the team at NPFY, Nayeli decided to take a theater class at school to overcome this anxiety and embrace the New Pathways teaching of, “Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable”.
With a lot of hard work, those anxieties eased and she found a good deal of grounding in theater and made a lot of friends. She wowed everyone when she got up in front of the entire group at New Pathways’ graduation celebration to share her story about how getting involved in theater made a huge difference for her.
“I’m so glad my mentor Lindsay and New Pathways helped me get out of my comfort zone,” Nayeli said. “I never could have done this without them.”