Brisa: Looking Forward to the Future
Graduating senior Brisa has grown immensely in confidence over the past four years. “I am proud of my accomplishments and how far I have come... Now, I look forward to the future and can focus on all the positive things that exist for me," said Brisa.
When Brisa was a ninth grader, she wasn’t sure if she’d ever see graduation day. “Before working with Ms. Estrada, I had a negative mindset and did not think I was capable of graduating and overcoming everything I have had to overcome in the past few years."
School wasn’t something she was interested in, so she didn’t dedicate much time to schoolwork. Brisa was experiencing some personal challenges, so she was more focused on her day-to-day, rather than her plans for after high school.
Then, Brisa started meeting regularly with Stephanie Estrada, the CIS of Chicago Senior Student Supports Manager based at her school. Stephanie is a trained social work and mental health professional with almost 10 years of experience supporting youth.
Brisa and Stephanie discussed ways that Brisa could better cope with difficult emotions and organize herself for academic success. They worked together on ways to boost Brisa’s self-confidence. In addition to meeting with Stephanie individually, Brisa also joined Stephanie’s girls’ group during her sophomore year. At first, Brisa was shy in the group setting, but after getting to know the other group members, she started opening up.
In girls’ group, Brisa discussed everything from building healthy relationships to showing yourself compassion. She had opportunities to explore her interests and strengths (for Brisa, that means anime, fashion, and makeup), and she developed positive affirmations for herself and others. This work helped Brisa grow in her self-awareness and confidence. She went from participating in girls’ group to becoming a leader.
Brisa encountered more challenges during her junior year when her school shifted to remote learning. Like most students, Brisa had to face the social isolation and stress that came from the pandemic, as well as adjust to a whole new way of learning.
Fortunately, she had Stephanie with her every step of the way. Stephanie checked in with Brisa weekly, through calls or text, to make sure that Brisa had the support she needed. Stephanie let Brisa know that she believed in her and helped her stay focused on her learning.
When Brisa felt anxious or frustrated – something many students felt during the pandemic – she practiced the coping skills she had learned from Stephanie, like journaling and deep breaths, and she used a planner to stay on top of her schoolwork. Stephanie helped Brisa overcome obstacles and unlock her potential.
Brisa is now a senior at Mather High School, and she continues to meet with Stephanie individually. Sometimes, Brisa stops by Stephanie’s office just to stay hi. The biggest change that Stephanie has seen in Brisa is her confidence.
“Brisa has grown to be a very mature young adult who is always willing to advocate for herself and others,” Stephanie said. “I am beyond proud of her.”
Brisa is determined, caring, and compassionate, Stephanie said, and she’s excited for her future. Brisa has been accepted to three universities and is interested in pursuing a career in nursing. "I look forward to graduation and all the accomplishments I will make,” said Brisa.