Meet Jenissa

Goodwill Excel Center Graduate

“Goodwill has the potential to become your family.”

Jenissa moved to Austin from New Jersey with her mother after her parents divorced. Unfortunately, she quickly fell in with some bad influences, became addicted to drugs, and dropped out of high school during the last month of her Senior year. She spent the next year in an unhealthy relationship and learned she was pregnant in December of 2015. Pregnancy, she says, saved her life.

But after giving birth to her son, Silas, Jenissa was a young, single parent. Those first few months of caring for her infant son made her realize how valuable time really is and she wanted to make a better life for herself and Silas. It was about this time she saw a flyer for The Goodwill Excel Center. She loved the colors and the design, and knew The Excel Center was where she wanted to earn her diploma. She was also excited about the prospect of childcare so she applied online and got registered.

Jenissa admits she was nervous on her first day, but once she arrived for iExcel student orientation she was instantly at ease. She was impressed with the faculty and staff, and glad to be surrounded by other like-minded individuals pursuing their education. She even fell in love with the colorful mural at the entrance and knew she had made the right decision!

When she first started Excel, Jenissa had arranged for a babysitter for her son but it was costly and strained her ability to continue with classes. Fortunately, after a few months she was able to join the CLIMB Classroom, where student-parents are able to bring their infants into the classroom and participate in online learning. Then in March, there was an opening at The Exploration Center. Silas received onsite childcare while she went to class.

Jenissa also took advantage of counseling services and joined Ladies in Leadership, a student group which meets once a week to provide peer support and empowerment. She was doing so well that when a paid internship opened up with Goodwill Business Solutions, one of her teachers referred her and she got the position! Jenissa was gaining valuable work experience while earning a paycheck. As an intern, Jenissa was assigned a Career Case Manager who helped her complete her driver’s education, get her driver’s license, and establish a path to college and career advancement.

Jenissa, now 20, graduated in June and is continuing her internship with the possibility of being hired full time. And, Goodwill helped her enroll Silas into an early childhood education program so she can start Austin Community College in the fall, studying Graphic Design.Jenissa says she is still astounded by all of the support and commitment from the people at Goodwill, making it possible to achieve her dreams.

 “Goodwill has the potential to become your family.”