"YESS builds inclusive learning communities to support students on their Road to Success."
Carlo Kriekels completed two law degrees, mastered five languages, and traveled extensively. On one of his trips, a motorbike tour of South America, his life was dramatically changed when he began volunteering at a Colombian shelter for abandoned children and street youth. Upon returning home, he began a quest to find deeper meaning in his life and he discovered his passion-providing emotional intelligence leadership training workshops. After intensive training, he worked with an international training institute to facilitate expensive training workshops for business leaders from around the world. In 2001, he came full circle and combined his interest in youth with the skills learned in the for-profit world and created the nonprofit YESS Institute to bring emotional intelligence leadership training to nonprofit agencies and at-risk youth.
Hi, my name is Iliana O, but everybody calls me Jackie. You're probably wondering what I'm doing here. Why should you listen to me? But I ask you with all the respect that I can to let me just tell you my story. I came to the US when I was 10 years old. It was really hard for me to get used to the USA. When I was 16, my mom decided to enroll me in Abraham Lincoln High School. I was excited. I started meeting people, especially girls, and little did I know I
was in a "crew" named The Pink Ladies. They told me, "don't worry, we are just a crew, we don't fight and everybody has your back." Of course all of that was a lie, but I believed them.
Since I was in the Crew my problems began. Girls used to make faces at me. They used to say stuff to me and since I was in a crew, I had to talk back. I started fighting, and ditching. I didn't care about my homework or my grades; all I cared about
was my crew and being "cool." But my crew never cared about me! The girls I thought were my friends were not. They started hating me and stopped talking to me. I was so confused I never thought I could change Jackie back to who she was.
After that happened I met a wonderful person that made me change the way I used to see things. He put me on [the attendance] contract. I had to go to my classes and my teachers had to put a grade down for me everyday. I remember when I saw my Fs I felt like crying. I felt very sorry and ashamed of myself. I knew I could do better. Then this person took me to the YESS Mentoring Program. There I met another person that I will never forget. The first day of mentoring I didn't care. I was very disrespectful to my mentors. Slowly, with the help of these two people and my mentors I started doing my homework. I started going to class, I even felt really good about myself. Soon after, I started to see progress. I saw As and Bs. We did so many fun activities. We all loved this program. I remember we used to look for people to tell them it was time to start and it was never boring. When it was time to go, we didn't want to go. You may wonder who these two people that changed my life are and they stand here today: Mr. Medina and Carlo.
I want to use this time to tell Mr. Medina and Carlo that they are the most wonderful and fighting people I have ever met in my life. Everything you did for me, thank you. Thank you for really helping me bring back that old Jackie that I was. Thanks to you and the program, I graduated and thanks to my grades I had a scholarship.
Unfortunately the scholarship only lasted a year and because of this in two weeks I will fly back home to Mexico and I will keep fighting for my dreams of becoming a lawyer and a model. I wish to find more people like Mr. Medina and Carlo and people to help me succeed in life just like they did. They always believed and trusted me. I would like to say too that this program should be in some schools because it will help a lot of students to keep their grades up. It could even help them have the strength to graduate. A lot of people in my school that needed this program ignored it and they
didn't believe that people could help them. The consequences were that they didn't graduate. Also, it helps to appreciate yourself as a person. It helps you with your self-esteem and to think you are capable of reaching whatever goal you want. Thank you for your time.