Rotcelis Morales-Jones to provide one-on-one college transition guidance and support for alternative school students

January 18, 2016

Made in Durham partners supporting opportunity youth have teamed to hire Rotcelis Morales-Jones to serve as a shared resource specialist.

Morales-Jones will work intensively with students at Achievement Academy of Durham and Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy to help them create and execute plans to succeed in college and career.

A United Way of the Greater Triangle grant provided funding for the new position.

“Research shows that skilled coaching and supportive services can help disconnected students get back on track for college and career success. Rotcelis brings a wealth of knowledge and experience helping young people find pathways to success,” said Lydia Newman, youth transitions strategist for Made in Durham. “We’re so delighted to have her join our team and so grateful the United Way has chosen to invest in the future of these students and our community by providing this critical resource.”

Achievement Academy and Magic Johnson both work with students who have dropped out of school to help them reconnect, earn a high school equivalency diploma and prepare for success in a post-secondary program and employment.

Morales-Jones will provide a range of services to help students at both schools transition to college, stay in school and graduate with a credential. She will provide vocational and college counseling and help them create and execute plans for completing secondary school prepared for careers. She will introduce students to college campus life, assist them with financial aid applications and connect them with supportive services, such as housing, child care and access to physical and mental health care.

Morales-Jones brings a passion for education and empowering families to the work of helping students bridge the gap between high school graduation and college enrollment. She most recently worked for the Durham County Department of Social Services, first as an adult Medicaid caseworker then with mainstream poverty programs to prevent homelessness by securing housing and preventing eviction for individuals who faced a sudden loss of income.

Before that, she managed services and operations for Pathways to Life Inc., a Durham agency serving clients with mental health and substance abuse challenges and developmental disabilities.

Morales-Jones began working with young people during college, implementing developmentally appropriate programs for low-income, high-risk students as an after-school enrichment counselor and camp coordinator with Visions Services Group Inc. She served as an intern with Durham Parks and Recreation’s gang prevention program, working strategically with staff members to facilitate life skills groups and organize workshops for Durham youth, and with First Presbyterian Day School, observing teacher and student relationships. She also worked with the Beauty of the Spirit program, participating in weekly activities with middle school-age girls to enhance community involvement and self-esteem.

Morales-Jones graduated magna cum laude from N.C. Central University with a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer sciences and a minor in public health education, and she is currently enrolled in its master of social work program. She holds certified nursing assistant certification from Fayetteville Technical Community College.

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Made in Durham is a community partnership of educators, business, government, youth-serving nonprofits and young people mobilized around a shared vision that all of Durham’s youth will complete high school and a post-secondary credential and begin a rewarding career by the age of 25.
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