Karolina's 2021 Success Story!

From court to college! Read Karolina's success story here!

Many of Avenues for Justice’s (AFJ) participants are frustrated by the circumstances that life has dealt them. Much of this resentment stems from their living situations, the lack of resources in their schools and neighborhoods, the over saturation of Black and Brown youth in the criminal justice system, and the lack of job longevity. 

Karolina harbored this frustration, which resulted in her getting arrested with a group of friends at the age of 15. After two years of being mandated to AFJ’s court advocacy program, Karolina was accepted into three different colleges (and counting!) this past month.

Elsie, Karolina’s Court Advocate, has believed in her since day one, and quickly referred her to counseling for anger management. Karolina has stuck with weekly counseling sessions since the moment Elsie made the referral.

AFJ’s wraparound services for Karolina also involved her entire family. When she started with AFJ, she had a 4-month-old son. Monday through Friday at 4pm, Karolina was at the Lower East Side Robert Siegal Center with her son ready to participate in the workshops. For the first time in her life, she was surrounded by a team who believed in her. Karolina participated in all of the in-person workshops including cooking classes, dance classes, job readiness, creative writing, and art classes.

Inspired by Elsie’s own story of returning to school, Karolina applied to college.

Karolina says that she has always wanted to help people but was not sure exactly what field she would pursue. Starting last March, however, she focused her attention towards graduating from high school and applying to nursing school.

Her focus paid off. In a conversation with us, Karolina spoke about the process:  

“I always wanted to go to college. The process was really hard at first because it was a lot of work figuring out which college you really want to go to.

I got accepted to Ithaca first, then LaGuardia, and now City Tech. It’s just those three already and I’m confident I’m going to get accepted into more. I am going to make sure I do everything I can to continue the process… continue to do what I got to do so it can pay off in life.” 

Elsie is incredibly proud of Karolina as well:

“I never had any problems with Karolina - she’s always been respectful.

Karolina takes the steps that are necessary instead of waiting for somebody. She did so many internships, she worked Summer Youth Employment Program, and she did it all on her own. 

I am so excited for her to take her next step. It’s not going to get easier, but she has the support system and she will continue to do what she’s doing.”

We are so proud of Karolina and know we’ll be following her success for years to come!