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Youth program paves a pathway to success

Genna Backman was on her way to becoming one of those sad statistics.

Drugs, partying and a baby at 16 forced her to take a semester off at West Auburn High School, and she wasn't thrilled about returning to school to catch up.

A tip from a friend led her to Neighborhood House's Out-of-School Youth program and to Youth Employment and Education Coordinator Jenifer Chao.

With Jenifer's help, Genna landed an internship that led to a temporary office position at Evergreen City Ballet. The 17-year-old left the job with a letter of recommendation and a newfound determination to graduate from high school and go to college.

"Genna has done very well," says Jenifer. "She just needed a little guidance. She took it and ran with it."

With Jenifer's encouragement, Genna attended classes at the Learning Center at West Auburn High School, earning credits at such a speedy pace that her teachers had a hard time keeping up with the grading.

Were it not for the Neighborhood House program, Genna says she probably would have dropped out for good. She certainly wouldn't have been named "student of the month" in recognition of all she's achieved.

The honor meant the world to Genna. "I want my daughter to learn from me," she says.
    Genna and her daughter