Carolina & Angelyss' Story
Angelyss is 20 years old. She was raised by a loving mom, Carolina, who recently married, giving Angelyss and her little brother an awesome stepmom. Angelyss worked hard in high school to get straight A’s and landed an academic scholarship at a private university, where she has leadership roles in student life.
What’s her connection to Covenant House? Well, she and Carolina lived there 16 years ago when Angelyss was only four years old.
Carolina grew up in poverty. Her mother’s untreated schizophrenia sometimes forced them to live in homeless shelters and her father was unable to help because he struggled with drug addiction. Carolina was 16 when Angelyss was born and they lived in a city-run shelter at the time. Angelyss’ father was unsupportive, her grandfather was in jail, and her grandmother’s mental health was deteriorating. Carolina quickly ran out of friends who were willing to let her and a newborn stay on their couch. Several times, their only option was a towel that they laid down on the floor for the two of them to sleep on together. Scared, tired, and tired of feeling scared and tired, Carolina was determined to prevent Angelyss from growing up in the environment that she did.
A friend told Carolina about Covenant House and she was accepted into the Mother & Child Program. Carolina told Angelyss it was a hotel and reassured her that everything was going to be ok. She quickly got a job as a security guard and Angelyss spent her days in the Covenant House daycare program. Carolina continued to work and save money, and, with the help of her case manager, she secured an apartment of her own. Their family still lives in that same apartment today.
Angelyss shared with us that a day doesn’t go by without her thinking what her life would be like if Covenant House wasn’t there for her mom all those years ago: “I learned my ABCs & how to count at Covenant House, and I made my first friend there,” she told us. “It’s an honor to represent the impact that Covenant House has on homeless kids. Covenant House changed my life – and my mom’s life – and I promise not to take this opportunity for granted.”
And she didn’t. Carolina had worked as an assistant to a group of physicians for more than ten years, inspiring Angelyss to focus on pursuing medicine.
“When Angelyss left for college, I hoped that as diligent as she was with her studies, that she would still make time to have fun; to explore the arts as well as the sciences, and find things she was passionate about. She has grown very independent these past three years. She has managed to find an apartment, go to school full-time, work part-time, budget her expenses, and run for student government — all while maintaining leadership positions in multiple student campus organizations. I am constantly in awe of her accomplishments and her ability to balance self-care with her social life.”
Carolina realized that if she was going to continue emphasizing the importance of a college education, she was going to have to lead by example. So she re-enrolled into an associates degree program and graduated, with honors. Her plan is to continue with her career in healthcare, and her next step is deciding whether she will enroll in a bachelor’s program for healthcare administration, or pursue a nursing degree.
We asked Carolina what she’d tell young people at Covenant House who are looking to advance their education but may feel it is out of their reach. She said, “I’d tell them it is in their reach! If attending school full-time is not an option, go part-time, take one class at a time if you have to. Even small steps towards your goal is a step in the right direction, and if you encounter a setback, remember it is only temporary. You got this! I believe in you.”
While Carolina is in the process of making decisions about the next step in her education journey, Angelyss is back at school for her senior year. We have no doubt that both women will be successful and will be a force in their chosen industry.