Rise Program student Carmen completed her teaching practicum in the midst of COVID-19. Here she is delivering a virtual lesson to her students!

Students like Carmen are proof that CoEd’s Rise Youth Development Program serves some remarkable young women. Through a combination of academic support, soft skills development, and personal development opportunities, Rise helps these young women develop the skills to overcome all manner of challenges.

Carmen wasn’t about to give up on her dream of becoming an elementary school teacher. From the time she was a young child, she always admired her teachers, and wanted to be just like them. However, her parents never had the financial resources to pay her school fees or buy school supplies. But Carmen was determined. She was such a strong student and leader among her classmates that her friends banded together to collect donations to keep her in school. This managed to get her through middle school, but when it came time to enroll in high school, her only option was a scholarship through CoEd’s Rise Youth Development Program.

For Carmen, 2020 represented a double challenge. In the last year of her high-school teaching degree, she was faced with continuing her own studies virtually, while also having to complete her own teaching practicum without face-to-face interaction with her students. “With respect to my studies, we have gone virtual in all the schools,” Carmen wrote to her sponsors. “It is something new for me to live this experience as it was also difficult for me to adapt to that. However, I have tried twice as hard to achieve my goals.”

The Rise Program provided much more than just tuition support. Carmen also benefited from a one-on-one relationship with her local facilitator, Any. Even before the pandemic, Any kept track of Carmen’s progress in school and touched base with her regularly to ask about any other challenges she may be facing.

Rise also gave Carmen the opportunity to complete a youth development curriculum that gives girls the knowledge and confidence to advocate for their rights throughout their lives, covering topics such as job preparation, life skills, social/emotional learning (self-esteem, goal-setting, etc.), and gender equality.

Thanks to the skills she’s gained through Rise, Carmen was more than ready to take on the challenges of a global pandemic, even when that meant she had to record videos of herself giving lessons for the students she was teaching in her capstone practicum. Rather than see a global pandemic as an insurmountable challenge to her education, Carmen said, “It is a beautiful experience and it helps me to develop as a future teacher, motivating students through this virtual model that forces us to cope with the times we are living.”

Thanks to Rise and the generous supporters and sponsors who make the program possible, Carmen beat the odds and graduated high school with her teaching degree in 2020. “I thank you very much for your support in this process of my life,” Carmen said.

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