Helping Wendoly Find Independence

By Stephanie Neil, Treehouse Education Specialist

When I first met Wendoly she had just started her senior year at Franklin High School. She had been using Treehouse services like Little Wishes and the Wearhouse, and more recently, Graduation Success. Wendoly was excited about everything senior year had to offer, but also a little worried about the gauntlet of applications and tests required for getting into college. We jumped right into talking about her goals and what she would need to do to get there. She is very interested in criminal justice and wants to work in forensics. We made a list of schools that she was interested in, and the application deadlines for each of them. We looked at her test scores and grades, determined the goals Wendoly had for herself, and created a plan to help her reach those goals.

Treehouse Education Specialist Stephanie Neil and Wendoly, Treehouse student

Luckily, Wendoly has been a diligent, proactive, and hardworking student. She took all the right classes, did lots of volunteer work, had a ton of extra-curricular activities, and had a great GPA. Unfortunately, she had recently aged out of care and her caregiver lost the financial support she had been receiving for Wendoly. Without any financial support, this amazing student was faced with having to find a job and support herself financially on top of her already busy schedule as a student. Wendoly decided to sacrifice a chance to play basketball in order to get a job. We decided together that in order for her to be able to concentrate on her goal, she would have to have options about where she lived.

I took Wendoly to the Y’s Independent Living Program. We met with an intake specialist and got the process started. Through them she will have support in moving into her own apartment, opening a bank account, and all the other little things that adults have to do to survive.

With that need met, we were able to refocus on Wendoly’s goals. We went through each college application to look at the different essays they required. Wendoly would write the essay and then email it to me. I would read it, edit it, and send it back to her. One by one, we tackled each application in this way. We also worked on the Governor’s Scholarship. It required information about Wendoly’s dependency status that even she didn’t know. I was able to track down her former social worker and get the information. We worked with CAN (College Access Now) to get her and her caregiver help with filling out the FAFSA.

Now that Wendoly has completed all her college applications, our weekly meetings consist of planning for her future and keeping her on track for graduation. Treehouse’s Little Wishes was able to pay for her athletic fees, graduation fees, and even her yearbook. Right before mid-winter break, Wendoly texted me to share some amazing news; she has been early admitted to WSU! She still has many colleges to hear from, but I have no doubt that they will be clamoring to have her. For now, she is looking forward to prom and graduation, and I am looking forward to supporting her in her transition to college and her future.  It has been such a joy to work with Wendoly this year and I can’t wait to celebrate with her as her acceptance letters roll in!

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About the Author

Stephanie Neil loves that her role as a Treehouse Education Specialist gives her a chance to watch youth discover their potential and succeed. Each week, Stephanie meets with students in middle and high schools in Central Seattle to help them stay on track in their classes, set meaningful goals, and transition to fulfill their post-secondary dreams.

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