Through Cunningham's Vocational Education program Naomi works at the Champaign County Humane Society, cleaning up after and caring for the cats one afternoon each week. She loves the days she's able to complete the necessary tasks ahead of schedule and gets to enjoy some time cuddling and playing with her furry friends.
Her dedication to the Humane Society and her passion for animals were noted when she was recognized this spring as the 2015 Gerber School Student Worker of the Year. The Vocational Education program has done more than help Naomi learn basic life skills like how to fill out applications, understand the importance of work attendance, and appropriate workplace behavior - they've inspired her to dream.
"I just want to help all the cats to be safe, and healthy, and find their way to a new home." Naomi said when asked why she works at the society.
Following a choir rehearsal a few weeks ago Naomi shared with me her dream for her future, to continue her education and become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, an ambitious goal for any 16 year-old.
Recently, while attending the University of Illinois' Vet Med Open House, an annual event put on for the community, I was suddenly surrounded by smiles and familiar faces. Two of our young women from the Girls Group Home, one of them Naomi, were also learning about veterinary medicine thanks to the support of their staff. The girls and I chatted briefly before they excitedly ran off down the hallway to hold exotic birds and to pet rescued grey hound dogs.
The path to becoming a veterinarian isn't an easy one, but with the support and encouragement of her staff, Naomi has found hope, the hope to dream of a future as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.
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