Joanaliz Nieves: Reading Works Graduate
I initially started participating in the Reading Works Program because it was an after-school program that offered a unique focus. At the time Reading Works was geared towards a pre-apprenticeship program in relation to construction and work readiness. This was one of the main reasons that managed to gain my attention as a freshman in high school. I saw this as an opportunity to acquire more information and experience in a field that is not typically discussed in schools and usually perceived as a gender specific occupation. The program also offered an incentive of receiving money for you participation in the summer; which is always an added bonus for anyone, especially a high school student. The staff members were also a key element towards my continuous attendance of four years. They were relatable, truly engaged with their jobs, and genuinely cared for the student’s success and well-being.
I am currently pursuing my graduate degree for Family, Marriage, and Individual Counseling at Kutztown University. With this degree, I am looking forward to obtaining my license in both Family, Marriage, and Individuals Counseling as well as in Mental Health. Currently, I am a graduate assistant for a federal grant whose objectives are to provide students with additional academic support and college readiness services. The majority of my assistantship is to design and conduct mentoring sessions, plan family events, and to fulfill other tasks at hand. I have also worked as a part-time sales associate for seven years at a retail store.
It was not until recently that I made a correlation between my experience within the Reading Works Program and my personal/professional life. Within my current occupation, I design my mentoring sessions to create an environment in which both students and facilitators are able to be treated with respect, able to achieve an objective, and still remain personable/respectful with one another. I hold these expectations because of my experience at Reading Works. I would like my students to have an effective and wonderful experience as I did during my years in high school. I would want them to feel comfortable in the environment they are in, respected, supported, seeing their ability to succeed, and to feel confident enough to take on potential obstacles they may face in life.
In regards to my future goals, I look forward to obtaining a counseling position working among diverse populations. Ideally, I will work with survivors of domestic violence and/or human trafficking or with students who are considered to be “at-risk.”
Reading Works was an after-school and summer program facilitated by United Community Services. The program focused on engaging high school students from primarily Reading High in learning about careers in construction apprenticeships. Joanaliz participated in the Reading Works Program all four years of high school.