TeenQuest graduate De’Anna Anderson loves what she does. As a prevention specialist with Catholic Charities, Anderson has the opportunity to change the lives of area children and make an impact on her community.
“Some students that I work with are harder to crack than others,” says Anderson. “But as we peel back their layers and they start to give me a chance, it is a great feeling.”
Anderson knows the importance of giving people a chance. Before entering her first year at Beecher High School, Anderson lost her father. She had a tough time adjusting to her new life. But then, she took TeenQuest and with the help of facilitator Greg Gaines, she found a different outlook on life.
“TeenQuest helped mold me into the person I am today,” says Anderson. “It taught me to take responsibility in my own personal growth.”
And that growth has landed her current position where, incidentally, she works alongside her former TeenQuest facilitator.
Find out more about Anderson’s journey and how TeenQuest helped her along the way.
What was the most valuable lesson you learned in TeenQuest?
In order for people to take you seriously, you have to take yourself seriously. That is the most valuable thing I learned. I wasn’t a jokester in school, but I was a kid and careless. TeenQuest helped me gain a sense of responsibility.
What is a memorable moment from TeenQuest?
When we were practicing mock interviews, Mr. Gaines could tell I was nervous and talked me down. He said, ‘Do you know who you are? Do you know the kind of person you are?’ There was something about him that made him comfortable to talk to. He had a ‘calm down, you got this’ kind of approach.
Do you think back to that moment in stressful situations?
Every time! Especially when I go on an interview. The first thing I think about is Mr. Gaines, and I tell myself, ‘Okay, it’s just like you’re talking to a regular person about yourself. You may feel nervous but don’t let it show. And whatever you do, stay strong and stay positive because the worst thing they can do is say no.’
If you could give advice to current TeenQuest students, what would it be?
The same thing that I was told in TeenQuest. Always be yourself, be honest and never give up. Stay resilient because if you don’t, that is when you become defeated. You may feel defeated at times, but when you stop trying that is when you are truly defeated.
What is your proudest moment since TeenQuest?
Seeing the fruits of my labor. The year I started TeenQuest was the hardest year for me. Now, I just recently got married. Everything doesn’t always go the way I want it to when I want it to. But I stay resilient.
TeenQuest and Summer Youth Initiative are made possible through the generous support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.