Where are they now?
Featuring: Zena Burtrus

Meet Zena.

Her favorite food? Crunchy, fresh, preferably homemade, thinly cut french fries.

Her favorite activity? Walking and smiling (the latter is not a surprise to anyone who has ever met her).

Zena graduated from Urban Corps in 2017. More recently, she graduated from San Diego State University in December (2020) with her Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Development.

Here’s a little bit of her story.

Zena was born in Iraq. With her parents and two of her siblings, she moved to San Diego to escape both war and persecution. “It was very dangerous to stay there,” she recalls.

In 2016, Zena joined Urban Corps of San Diego County, where she made a concerted effort to excel in her academics. “It was amazing for me,” she says describing her time in the program. “The staff were all great.”

Zena’s hard work, focus and determination paid off, and as a member of the class of 2017, she was named Valedictorian. She credits Lisa Tomas for encouraging her to accept the role of class speaker.

After graduating from Urban Corps, Zena shifted her focus to continuing her studies at community college and looking for a job. However, after encouragement from both friends and family, Zena decided to pursue her bachelor’s degree at San Diego State University.

“[University] was not part of the plan,” recalls Zena. “It’s hard to keep pushing through.”

Push through she did. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Development, while simultaneously working as a crucial member of Urban Corps’ Human Resources department.

Why the degree in Child and Family Development? 

“I love kids. Who doesn’t love kids?”

Her dream? To make the lives of children better

By leveraging her administrative skills and strong work ethic, alongside her clear love of kids, Zena is currently looking for opportunities to serve kids in an administrative or case management capacity. Specifically, Zena would love to work at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. 

“I love that place. I love the people”.

Wrapping up our time with Zena, we asked about the impact Urban Corps made on her life. She responded saying, “Urban Corps made me feel more self-confident and ready to go out into the world…I feel I’m ready.”

Asked about how she feels right now?

“Very happy.”

For media inquires please contact us at info@urbancorps.org

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Urban Corps of San Diego County Receives $100,000
Donation From Guild Giving Foundation

Money will be useds to help young adults with education and job training

Urban Corps of San Diego County received a $100,000 donation from the Guild Giving Foundation, a nonprofit organization created by Guild Mortgage to deliver on its commitment to building relationships and strengthening communities. The money will be used to help Urban Corps continue its mission to provide young adults ages 18-26 a second chance for a high school diploma while giving them the tools to expand their career opportunities through paid job training.

“The Guild Giving Foundation and Guild Mortgage are long-time supporters of Urban Corps and we can’t thank them enough for their support,” said Kyle Kennedy, CEO of Urban Corps of San Diego County. “This donation will help us continue to give our Corpsmembers the opportunity to earn a high school diploma and receive life skills and paid job training that will put them on the road to success. In our 2022 fiscal year, 66 Corpsmembers graduated with their high school diplomas, 20 percent are headed to college and 80 percent are employed.”

The donation was raised from Guild Giving Foundation’s annual Charity Golf Tournament and Dinner Social that included golf, dinner and a silent auction with items such as vacation packages, sports memorabilia and one-of-a-kind experiences.

“The Guild Giving Foundation is committed to giving back to communities where Guild Mortgage employees and customers live,” said Mary Ann McGarry, president and CEO of Guild Mortgage. “We encourage our employees to volunteer, support financial literacy and deliver on our commitment to provide shelter and inspire positive change. Urban Corps is an organization that provides a positive change in San Diego County and we are proud to donate and help them with their mission of education and paid job training.”

About the Urban Corps of San Diego County

Founded in 1989, Urban Corps of San Diego County is a certified local conservation corps and charter school whose mission is to provide young adults ages 18-26 the tools to expand their career opportunities through paid job training, support services and a second chance to earn a high school diploma.

For more information or to join Urban Corps, visit https://urbancorpssd.org/ and follow us on Twitter (@SDUrbanCorps), Facebook & Instagram (@sandiegourbancorps), TikTok (@urbancorps) and LinkedIn.

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