By Anasuya Kesavan, Marketing and Communications
Photo by David Denofreo
The path to success isn’t always a straight line. No one knows this better than Gloria Shen.
When she graduated from high school, Gloria had one dream: to be a voice for vulnerable youth.
“I believed my calling was to work with young people,” says Gloria. “I wanted to serve in the community.”
To get there, she set her sights on getting a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Youth Care from Douglas College. But the admission requirements were stringent, and Gloria didn’t make the cut.
Undeterred, she decided to take Sociology, and graduated with an Associate of Arts Degree. She applied to the Child and Youth Care program again, and this time got an offer for a seat in the Youth Justice Diploma program. She’d never heard of it, but found the offer hard to resist when she learned that she could transfer into the third year of the Child and Youth Care program with a Youth Justice Diploma.
“It was the best of both worlds, and I jumped on the opportunity.”
She hasn’t looked back.
Gloria says the Youth Justice program helped her discover the joys of helping youth in care (under the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development) overcome their personal struggles.
“Youth Justice shaped me into what I am. I truly did not know how great it would be.”
Along with classroom learning, Gloria got practical experience in the field, including working alongside an addiction counsellor.
“During one of my practicums I rode the SkyTrain looking for young people in distress,” she recalls. “I had to build a rapport with them and try to help them.”
Now a graduate of both the Youth Justice and Child and Youth Care programs, Gloria has turned her passion into a career. She’s a full-time Child and Youth Outreach & Empowerment Support Worker with a non-profit organization called Pacific Community Resources Society.
“My work is primarily to help young people help themselves,” says Gloria, who divides her time between desk and fieldwork. “I support 13–18 year olds in Ministry care in the process of self-awareness, and I help them achieve their personal goals.”
“Young people are amazing,” she adds. “They are bright, and I’ve learned a lot about resilience from them.”