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Welcome to our Newest Staff Member, Ericka!

Ericka speaking at Generation Hope's 2014 "Pep Rally Under the Stars" Gala (Photo: Frame Magic Video & Photo)

Ericka speaking at Generation Hope's 2014 "Pep Rally Under the Stars" Gala (Photo: Frame Magic Video & Photo)

Greetings! My name is Ericka, and I am thrilled to be a part of the Generation Hope staff! This is such an amazing, life-changing organization. I am an example of the impact that Generation Hope has in the lives of their scholars as I was a member of the 2012 "Impleti" class. I am excited to begin my new journey as a member of the staff. It is such an awesome feeling to wake up every day and know that you are working to change the lives of not only determined parents but their children too. 

I grew up in Washington, D.C. I currently reside in Maryland. I graduated from Trinity (Washington) University, cum laude, in May 2014 with a degree in business administration where I served as the School of Professional Studies, Student Government Association President. I fell in love with nonprofits and philanthropy early in my college career. 

I enjoy spending time with my family, friends and Trinity sisters. I love roller coasters, reading, watching movies, traveling and trying new things. 

I look forward to working with you in our efforts to help more teen parents in the D.C. area become college graduates!

-Ericka Harley, Assistant to the CEO

Ready to Own It

Today, we feature a guest post by our Scholar Wendy Gonzalez. Wendy attends Northern Virginia Community College while raising her son. She also interns with Reingold, Inc., where she works with her Sponsor Shannon Tucker.

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As we start a new year, we know 2014 will bring challenges as well as opportunities to become something better. Generation Hope reminds me that with focus and determination, I can do anything.

For me, that’s a powerful idea. I am an 18-year-old teen mother with a 2-year-old son. I became pregnant my junior year of high school, and I had difficult moments when I had to miss school because my son was sick. My social life slowly deteriorated once I became a parent. I worried that I wouldn’t make my mother proud of me.

Even before I had my son, I knew the challenges I would face. I was raised in a single-parent home. Money in our house was very tight because there was only one income providing for my brother and me. Through the years, I felt lonely, with no father figure and lack of motivation to dream for something more. My mother only graduated from high school, and I planned to do the same and end my education.

But once I became a mother, I understood I needed to improve my life to provide the best for my son and my family. Thanks to God, determination, and the Generation Hope staff, I was accepted into the program. They believed in me; faith in scholars’ potential is what makes Generation Hope unique.

I am glad to say I am a Generation Hope Scholar and feel as if I am not the only teen parent struggling to become successful. My days look different from those of many college freshmen: I used to hang out with friends after school, take 30 minutes to get ready for a party, and post on my friends’ Facebook walls. These days, I spend most of my time with my son—in addition to attending school, working as an intern at a communications firm, and keeping up with duties at home. I can’t just go to the movies with my friends now. Someday in the near future, when I have earned a degree, am economically stable, and my son is older, then I won’t think twice about going. Sometimes you have to sacrifice things temporarily to realize the future you want.

I am happy to have my Generation Hope Sponsor—a mentor who supports me every day. I can talk to her about anything. She helps me with many things, from motivating me when I’m ready to throw in the towel to finding alternate child care. We were able to build our relationship fast, as if we had known each other for years. She is always trying her best to help me succeed. After meeting her, I have learned that asking for help isn’t wrong, but instead to reach out when you need help, because others may have more knowledge and are able to give you a hand.

All of us who are part of Generation Hope can look back at 2013 with pride. 2014 will bring challenges as well as opportunities to become something better. Thirteen new scholars, including me, began their journeys with Generation Hope, with more to come. Generation Hope founder Nicole Lynn Lewis recently spoke about her moving experience as a teen parent in college at a TEDx event. I am inspired by her words, and with Generation Hope’s help with time management skills, I am ready to become a better student and strengthen my relationships. In 2014, anything is possible for me.

Happy Thanksgiving from our Staff!

As we celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, there are so many things to be thankful for.  Working for an amazing organization with wonderful Scholars, Sponsors, board members, donors, volunteers and community partners is a gift that we don't take for granted!  In the spirit of being grateful, we thought we'd share with you what our staff is most thankful for this year.

Thank you for believing in Generation Hope and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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