Our youth are extraordinary! Here you can get to know our youth, and learn about some of their personal experiences with Y.O.U. and the community.
Charles Jefferson calls Y.O.U. his “second family.” Charles, now a sophomore at Columbia College, first became involved with Y.O.U. when he transferred to Evanston Township High School as a 15 year old. Lacking connections to the community he found a few new friends, one who suggested that he might want to check out Y.O.U.’s after school program at the high school. Charles quickly found himself engaged in Y.O.U., planning for Diverse Evanston Walks United (DEWU), a project that was organized by youth involved in the Y.O.U. program.
Y.O.U. became Charles' “second home” as he became immersed in Y.O.U. activities. He found his niche within the larger high school community and went from a shy, soft-spoken young man to an outgoing school leader. He credits many of the staff with helping him build his self-confidence and self-esteem. Charles honed his leadership skills at Y.O.U. where he was co-chair of the DEWU event for two years. At ETHS he was a co-chair for “Students for Change” and initiated the project “Mix it Up at Lunch” which challenged students to end segregated lunchroom practices. Charles also served on the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority’s Youth Advisory Board. In 2010 he received the Art Award, Y.O.U.’s annual recognition of a youth who has shown personal growth and development while involved with Y.O.U. Since transitioning to college, he continues to be involved at Y.O.U. as a volunteer mentor to youth, and recently used his experience studying communications to produce a video tribute to retired executive director Don Baker.
See Charles speak more about his experiences in this video about Y.O.U.
Tilly-Anna Cersier (known as Tulie) credits Y.O.U. with “helping me to become a leader and a more mature person.” She is well-known at Y.O.U. as an energetic, active role model to her peers. She recently graduated Evanston Township High School after being active in Y.O.U. programs since 2003, beginning at Oakton Elementary School.
Tulie’s hobbies include writing poetry and listening to music, and she is a strong advocate of anti-violence and peace. She enjoys community service and was one of the youth organizers of the Diverse Evanston Walks United (DEWU) project which was founded following the death of a young man due to gang violence. Tulie also organized a clothing drive at ETHS for Haitian victims of the devastating earthquake, resulting in a donation of 13 boxes of clothing.
“Y.O.U. has been an important part of my life and helped me stay focused,” says Tulie. She was admitted to Eastern Illinois University where she plans to study speech pathology, and she was recently awarded a scholarship from the Warren Cherry Scholarship Fund to help finance her studies.