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#25DaysOfGiving: Give the Gift of Job Experience

During her first year at the Durham Performance Learning Center (PLC), Maya* found it hard to stay motivated to make it to school each day. Of the first 10 weeks in the semester, she made it to school only about half of the time.

“She was working, so she had to make the choice between working and school each morning,” says Zellua Sistrunk-Moore, Graduation Coach at PLC, a nontraditional, credit-recovery high school Communities In Schools of Durham opened with Durham Public Schools. “But her mom started expressing interest in her graduating—she'd be the first in her family to graduate.”

To motivate Maya to get back on the graduation track, Zellua sat her down for a talk about the future, probing her interests to discover Maya dreamed about one day being a nurse.

“Zellua has made me think about what I'm going to do after high school,” Maya says. “I like taking care of people. I wanna learn how nursing works and how hard it would be for me.”

Job shadowing is often an invaluable experience for students like Maya, students who may not be able to see past high school due to hard life circumstances. An immersive, hands-on experience can spark something in them, giving them a vision and goal for the future. For Maya, the possibility of a shadowing a nurse excited her so much that she made it to her classes for a full week for the first time all year.

“She doesn't really know what kind of nursing, but she thinks she has a gift, and some sort of job shadowing will guide her as she figures out the future,” Zellua says.

Come next semester, Zellua hopes to send Maya on a job shadow with a nurse working for Durham Public Schools, giving her a first-hand look at the career she's always dreamed of. And there are so many more students like Maya who could benefit immensely from such an opportunity. With the help of community volunteers, Communities In Schools of Durham can provide that to more of our city's vulnerable youth. Just one day a week can ignite a spark for future possibilities.

Join us in #25DaysOfGiving, and consider giving your time for a job shadow to enrich the lives of Durham's youth.

If you are a nurse in the Durham area and would like to work with Maya, please contact Graduation Coach Zellua at

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the student.

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