Let’s Work: Youth Program Helps Kailamai Hansen Get Her Degree

Kailamai Hansen had a difficult childhood. She moved in and out of foster care during her teen
years and after her mom’s death, struggled with her school studies. After she transferred to an alternative high school at age 17, she began to focus on her schoolwork and graduated early.

Kailamai Hansen (Photo by Lisa Nagrou photography)

Kailamai Hansen (Photo by Lisa Nagrou photography)

At age 18 – Kailamai like many young people who “age out” of the foster system – lacked the knowledge and skill to care for herself financially and she relied on churches and family friends. Eventually she was put in touch with the Idaho Department of Labor.

Workforce consultant Bonnie Niles worked with Kailamai and signed her up to participate in the department’s youth employment program. Funded by Workforce Investment Act dollars from the federal government, the program provides education, training and employment opportunities for low-income youth. In Kailamai’s case, it provided support for tuition and books at North Idaho College.

“I started to realize that education was my ticket to success,” Kailamai said. “It was my one way ticket to a bright future. Through your (Bonnie’s) help I have come to realize that should I dedicate myself to a task, there are people out there that will believe in me and assist me along the way.”

Kailamai received her associate degree and plans to move to Lewis Clark State College to work toward her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. After that, she would like to go to Gonzaga University and either pursue a law degree or a master’s degree in criminal justice or social work.