As a 17-year-old senior in high school, Asia Johnson juggled a workload full of AP classes, applied for an obtained an internship with the Mecklenburg County Tax Office and was accepted to North Carolina A&T State University on scholarship – all before graduation day. While many of her peers struggle to stay in school, Asia has found that a key to her success is having a support system to rely upon. She and her brother both found that support system at Goodwill.

Asia and her little brother Demarcus joined Goodwill’s GoodGuides youth mentoring program when it first started in 2010 through an affiliation with Communities in Schools. “When I first started, I thought that this was just another after school program,” she said. “I am not going to lie, before I came to Goodwill I was struggling so hard in class. They really helped me. For me, I feel like they opened my eyes to something that I probably wouldn’t have known otherwise.”

Though she had always thought she might go to college once she graduated from high school, Asia had never really thought about the steps she would need to take to get into and pay for college until she started getting involved with GoodGuides. “They always tell us that school is something serious,” she said. Now, she advises other teenagers to get involved at school and in extracurricular activities early in their high school careers. “The most important thing is to keep your grades up, and get involved with an activity that you can stick with. I think having a mentor really helps a lot.”

Belonging to the GoodGuides youth mentoring program really helped Asia when things started getting harder during her 11th grade year. “That’s when you start realizing that high school is hard, and if you don’t have anybody, people just give up and drop out,” she said. “If you have a program like Goodwill, then you have people who care about you. They are going to be there and they are going to say that they know it’s hard but you’ve got to keep trying.”

During a trip to the CNN Center in Atlanta with the GoodGuides youth mentoring program, Asia got to see the technology and creativity behind-the-scenes during a news broadcast. “I really like the technology – I had never wanted to be in front of the camera or anything, but I thought it was so cool to see how it all works.”

Asia will enter North Carolina A&T State University this fall, and plans to major in accounting.

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