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
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
“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.”