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Homeless students network with professionals

7:17 PM, Jan 24, 2014   |    comments
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DENVER - When Nesha Ahmad got kicked out of her house for disobeying her mother, she knew her life would take a turn. After spending time homeless, the 19-year-old student wants to turn her life around.

"To me being homeless actually has taught me a lot of things," Ahmad said. "It's taught me to do better for myself."

That's why she is one of 115 students who are homeless or on the verge of homelessness attending an event called "Connect. Build. Succeed." Urban Peak is a non-profit organization who works with homeless youth. It put together this event to help them network with business owners, professionals, and representatives from service organizations.

"Create the kind of support and networking that the youth we serve don't have in their everyday life," Kim Easton, CEO of Urban Peak, said. "It's really important for our youth to have an experience to build self-confidence where they have to communicate and build a relationship with another adult."

Ahmad wants to become a juvenile detention officer. She says meeting potential employers face-to-face is a valuable lesson for her and for the other students at Urban Peak.

"Since it's a lot of homeless kids, I'm sure a lot of them probably don't have experience in a lot of things and they want to go and do something," Ahmad said.

Urban Peak and an organization called "Dress for Success" helped furnish professional clothing for the students. Easton says that is also important.

"It's a big deal for these kids to have the chance to look good, to look professional, to have that experience because they don't have those role models in their life," Easton said.

Libby Birky owns the Same Café. She is attending the event to look for potential interns at her business.

"We would give them the opportunity to gain job skills in the food service industry, food safety, culinary skills," Birky said.

She says this networking opportunity can help businesses look towards homeless students as a potential resource.

"This gives us an opportunity to really one-on-one get to know a student," Birky said. "What we really see is that these students are just students."

Ahmad says just because she's homeless doesn't mean she can't successful in a job.

"You can't let being homeless stop you from doing something you want to be when you're older," Ahmad said.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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