Nekey & Giovanni
Nekey Oliver’s tagline on her email reads, “Live life always learning and never regretting.” The 2012 Jeremiah Program graduate lives by those words.
“You have to learn from the past. If you spend your time regretting, then you are stuck. There is always growth in learning, even from negative situations,” she says.
Nekey came to Jeremiah in 2010, a student at the University of Minnesota struggling with an unstable living situation. She and her young son, Giovanni, were moving frequently between family members’ homes. “We were crammed into an apartment plus I had just left an abusive relationship. We needed a change.”
She applied to Jeremiah on the recommendation of a student worker at the University of Minnesota and jumped in with both feet. “My advice to new residents is to utilize your resources. There are a ton of resources at Jeremiah. Empowerment training was one of the best things. It taught me how to own and express my feelings and the steps to get from weak mode to power mode in everyday situations.”
Nekey also says that life skills training, especially related to parenting, has made a huge difference in her and Giovanni’s life together. “I learned that when kids ask you tough questions, a lot of the time they just want you to tell them that they’re safe, that they’ll be all right.”
After just two years at Jeremiah, Nekey graduated from the program, and from the University of Minnesota with a degree in sociology, law, criminology and deviance with a leadership minor. She now is pursuing a master’s degree in education at the University of Minnesota with a focus on youth development and leadership. She hopes to work as a counselor with children and youth.
Her son is a student at Hennepin Elementary Charter School in south Minneapolis where he recently scored in the 98th percentile in reading and math! “He reads above his grade level,” says Nekey with pride. “They are trying to find more things to challenge him and he loves school. And what I love is that the principal and teachers constantly say they are preparing the students for college. I want him to hear that message starting when he’s young.”
Through her experiences at Jeremiah, Nekey has also learned the skills of communication and participation. “I keep in close touch with his teacher. And the school expects parents to show up for every PTA meeting. It’s important to be involved as a parent.”
As she pursues a bright future, Nekey is quick to assess the impact of Jeremiah on her life: “Jeremiah helped me regain my independence. It was secure and offered us comfort. I created bonds with many women, and really close friendships that I still have even though I have moved out. Being around like-minded people who are in the same situation as you provides a real support system.”