Student Spotlight

Eric Hale, Jr.

With his Jefferson County High School Diploma in hand, Eric Hale, Jr. is beaming with pride!  Through hard work and personal dedication, Eric was able to complete his courses and earn the diploma while enrolled in the YouthBuild Louisville program. But the journey was not an easy one, and Eric has worked hard to realize his dreams!

Eric was referred to the YouthBuild Louisville program by two alumni of YouthBuild, Kevin Staples and Maurica Williams. “I heard about their experience in YouthBuild and I thought it might work for me too,” said Eric.

“When Eric first entered YouthBuild his ADHD and subsequent behavior patterns had prevented him from reaching his goals in a traditional learning environment.  This is not uncommon with our students, and it’s something we work really hard to address within our program, but ultimately the students have to put in the work” said Kennina Porter, Program Manager at YouthBuild Louisville.

“Eric has experienced a dramatic transformation over these last few months in the program. Initially, he could barely sit still and focus. It took a while for new habits to form, but he really has invested in the process.  He’s much more intentional about his interactions and has learned to recognize when it is time to separate himself and work on individual work in order to stay on task.  His upbeat personality is now a welcomed trait as he encourages his peers and passionately pursues his goals,” Kennina continued.

Eric is one of the YouthBuild students currently enrolled in the CNA Training program through a partnership with Spaulding University.  Eric plans to attend Bluegrass Community Technical College and later transfer to the University of Kentucky to complete his nursing degree.  It’s been a great few weeks for Eric as he has recently celebrated his 21st Birthday, received his Driver’s License, played in his first game on the YBL basketball team and earned his High School Diploma! Way to go, Eric, we are all very proud of you!


Levelle Jackson

An attitude, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary website, "is a mental position with regard to a fact or state; a feeling or emotion toward a fact or state." The dictionary goes on to state that the word "positive" can be used as "having a good effect; favorable; marked by optimism." Levelle Jackson is the definition of a positive attitude!

He tries to make everyone smile and keep their spirits up. He’s using that positive attitude to get ahead in life by getting his GED and certification in construction and going on to college for business or real estate. For Levelle, YouthBuild Louisville alumni and his family are the way to success. He wants to change his life and he knows YouthBuild is the way to do that. He advises anyone considering the program, “It’s a good program if you’re serious,” and says it can help anyone get where they need to be to overcome barriers. He’s excited to work on Kosair playhouses and the laundromat building restoration at Duvall's Liquors. Levelle’s proudest moment was the project at Mr. Rob’s house. He loved seeing his reaction and the experience he gained using recycled materials for the work (seeing the television coverage on WHAS11 and WAVE3 was cool too)!


Devontae Pearson

Devontae Pearson is in the student spotlight this month for his exceptional contributions and dedication to the YouthBuild Louisville (YBL) program. After being referred by St. John's to join YBL, Devontae set his mind and efforts on attaining his GED, attending college and getting certifications in Construction and as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).

While attending the YBL program, Devontae has been commended for his positive solution-oriented behavior. He is currently working on completing the program with perfect attendance and enjoys participating in group activities such as working on Kosair playhouses. Devontae strives to be a good role model for others, avoiding arguments, offering help where needed, and promoting abstinence from smoking and drinking. In his free time, he enjoys skating, bowling and playing XBOX.

Devontae has spoken at YBL's March Building Lives Luncheon and Kosair's Playhouse Reveal. He used these events as an opportunity to be courageous and open up about his personal experiences. His hard work and dedication have earned him the opportunity to participate in this year's French Exchange Program in June where he will go with YBL staff and students to work in the Garden of Versailles for two weeks.

Devontae offered his advice to incoming students joining YBL, "Stay dedicated, motivated and show up every day. Waking up every day is all the motivation needed." Devontae's time at YBL has helped him open up to people and strive to help those in need. He has proven himself to be a confident and reliable student over time and is a shining example of what can happen when you try your best to accomplish life goals.


Morgana Dockery

YouthBuild is proud of all of our graduates and their accomplishments after leaving the program. Many former students stay connected and update us throughout their journey. Morgana Dockery graduated from YouthBuild in 2002, part of the original first class from YBL.

After graduation, Morgana attended Jefferson Community & Technical College where she received her Associates in Applied Science and Medical Assisting in 2008. She became a Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) holding that position for nine years working at various organizations like Family Health Centers and being a part of the team to start the Shawnee Christian Healthcare Center in 2011. Morgana eventually took a CMA position under Dr. Guelda in pediatrics before returning to school at Spalding University in 2015 to get her Bachelor of Science in Social Work. In October, Morgana started her new position at Norton's Neuroscience Institute under Dr. Finizio. Morgana will graduate in June of 2019 and we couldn’t be prouder!

In addition to attending college and working full time, Morgana is also raising two sons, Elijah (19) and Evan (13) and has a wonderful relationship with her boyfriend, Laron. She credits her supportive family and friends, as well as her YouthBuild family, with her continued success! Way to go Morgana!