Focused on the Future
Qualikah “Leekah” Colvin was struggling. The ambitious and bright 17 year old was being negatively influenced by her peers and finding herself in trouble with the police. After a series of missteps her mother decided to seek out support from Center For Family Services’ STEP program to help her daughter refocus her attention and start working towards a life of success.
“My mom thought it would be good to get me into activities to keep myself busy. At first, I was thinking, ‘Oh, no, I don’t want to do this.’ I’ve had therapy and been a part of other mentoring programs but STEP was different,” remembers Leekah with a smile.
Center For Family Services’ STEP program places Camden County teens involved with probation in a supportive internship with a caring professional who encourages and prepares them for success in the workplace while providing the opportunity to learn based on practical experience.
STEP assisted Leekah with writing her resume, preparing for the job interview, and dressing for success. She immediately started to form a strong connection with STEP staff. “Wren (STEP Program Director) talked to me on my level; we could relate to each other. She is a different type of grown up. Kids these days needs that, someone they can talk to.”
Leekah found herself interviewing at Millennium Skate World, the host site for many other STEP mentees. She nailed the interview and was connected with a workplace mentor from Millennium Skate World. Leekah quickly learned the importance of being on time, body language, customer service, and food prep.
“I loved working in the kitchen and learning food preparation. It also gave me the opportunity to deal with different personalities.”
She shined so bright in the kitchen and at the cash register that customers gave her a nickname, Tuesday, for the day she worked at Millennium each week as a STEP mentee. “I really like to make people’s day. It’s important to make customers feel special.”
Since beginning her supportive internship at Millennium in the Fall of 2014, Leekah’s parents have noticed a positive change in their daughters life and attitude. She is more responsible, has better relationships with family members, and maintains good grades in school. She was also recently nominated as Junior Class President at Woodrow Wilson High School.
Millennium was so impressed by her work ethic that they hired her part time.
“Leekah has the qualities to push herself further and further,” says STEP Program Director Wren Ingram. “She is focused on setting goals, planning for the future, and open to guidance.”
Leekah’s future goals include attending Rowan University and then Cooper Medical School of Rowan University to study to become an OB/GYN.
“It’s easy to get to work on time when you love what you’re doing,” says Leekah. “Millennium Skate World is a place I want to come, not where I have to come. It has shaped me to become a more confident, responsible person.”