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From homeless to college: a young woman’s journey

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    TULSA, OK (KJRH) — A young Tulsa woman lived in her car as a teen and is now graduating college with an engineering degree.

Nearly 20,000 children are homeless in the Tulsa community, but 21-year-old Kayla Ifekoya dug herself out of that situation.

She said, “It was really hard. Living in my car, going to school like, is this all that I have to live for?”

Born to a teen mom, Kayla found herself living in a shelter as a child. Then, she moved in with her grandmother. But when Kayla was 17, her grandmother passed away – leaving her with no home or family.

That’s when she started living in her car. She said, “It became too tough for me, and I almost just wanted to give up on life. But there was something deep down inside me that I can do better.”

So, she pulled herself up – a brave teenager, alone in the world – and reached out for help from organizations like Youth Services of Tulsa.

Kayla said, “They helped me build my confidence, helped me with making money, helping with just getting my life back on track – that stability that I just did not have.”

Most importantly, they found her a place to live. David Grewe, Executive Director of Youth Services of Tulsa, explained, “The Transitional Living Program is really about 12 to 18 months. You getting apartment in a facility like this. You’re expected to work on education and employment plan.”

That’s exactly what Kayla did, enrolling at Tulsa Community College, exclaiming, “I have literally one more semester, as of today, and I’ll have my associate’s degree in engineering.”

She even just got back from a NASA workshop program. Kayla said, “It takes people years to get from where i was to where i kind of am now, and this is not where I want to stop.”

Kayla wants to get her associates degree in mechanical engineering and then enroll in the military – but just in the reserves. That’s because she has more work to do within the community that gave so much to her. She said, “My future goal is to become a structural engineer. I want to build more programs like YST.”

So, the next time she gets into her car, it won’t be to sleep; it will be to drive herself forward to a new journey in life.

Youth Services of Tulsa is celebrating 50 years of service, helping more than 300-thousand youth in the Tulsa area

YST is having a homecoming event to celebrate the milestone this Sunday, October 13 from 3 to 8 p.m. at Guthrie Green.

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