Ali Hassan was recruited for Hillside Work-Scholarship Connection (HWSC) when he was just 15 and a ninth grader at the Rochester Leadership Academy for Young Men. He says he was painfully shy when he joined HWSC, but over the years he became more comfortable speaking to others – a trait that has served Hassan well in high school and as a student at Rochester Institute of Technology, and in part-time work that he’s successfully juggled with his studies along the way.

HWSC shows young people their own boundless potential. “Before starting the program, I really didn’t have any people skills,” Hassan said. “Hillside taught me how to communicate effectively as well as learning critical job readiness skills like how to create a resume and interview preparation. It really taught me self-confidence.”

In addition to the academic supports he received from HWSC while in high school, he credits HWSC’s Youth Employment Training Academy (YETA) for helping shape his professional development. To be eligible for YETA, students must be 15 years old and meet the “AAA” standards of academics, attendance, and attitude.

Following his YETA certification, Hassan’s first work experience in high school was as a cashier at Wegmans. He excelled in that position, thanks to important lessons learned including the value of a firm handshake; offering a smile; and always showing respect for colleagues, customers and teachers.

Following his graduation at RIT, Hassan looks forward to turning his part-time job at Rochester’s The Bonadio Group into a full-time position with the firm.

After spending 12 years in a refugee camp in Kenya due to war that broke out in 1992, Hassan and his family were finally granted asylum to the United States before ultimately landing in Rochester. Hassan was the first in his family to earn both a high school and college diploma, and he also serves as his parents’ connection to the English-speaking world. Thanks to support from HWSC and his own hard work and determination, he’s now well on his way to building a bright future for himself and his family.

Community support is crucial to helping HWSC make a difference in students’ lives. Support Hillside today and make an impact. 

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