Abandoned as a Child but Never Gave Up

Abandoned as a Child but Never Gave Up

Seventeen-year-old Olivya Soleste Cervantes became yet another Sierra Nevada Job Corps student sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic in March. But that didn’t stop her. This is her story in her own words:

“I grew up loving art. The outlet I pursued the most was art. I was influenced by my birth mom before she got heavy into drugs and left me on my dad’s porch when I was eight, on Christmas Day.”

Olivya Soleste with Sierra Nevada staff and students

Olivya’s challenges didn’t end there. “I got bullied a lot,” she says “at the different schools I attended. I didn’t really have any friends until I came to live at Sierra Nevada Job Corps. Now, I do. I entered this program when I was 16 with some mega trust issues. I didn’t trust anybody. Now, I do. When I chose the painting program at Job Corps, I immediately loved it. If it weren’t for academic teachers like Carrie Lingenfelter and Wes Getz, my painting instructor, plus all the students I met here, my life would still be grey.”

But it isn’t, thanks to Job Corps. After delving into the painting program, Olivya realized she had great potential and could accomplish anything.

“This school gave me opportunities I never knew I could have,” she says.

“I’ll stick with distance learning [Job Corps from home] and see it through. It’s hard work, but I’m going to make it. With me currently being at my dad’s house, I learned to be patient and find myself in the present. I focused on my academics using the online modules and finished getting all my high school credits (Hurray!).”

Her training at Sierra Nevada Job Corps led to new employment.

Olivya Soleste with Sierra Nevada staff and students

“I got a job and started working last month, which feels good. But painting is a construction vocation. It’s hands-on, so there’s a lot of stuff I can’t do online. It’s stressful. I’m afraid to fall behind, but I’m very grateful I made this choice of going to Job Corps rather than staying at home. Honestly, thank you Job Corps.”