A Catamount for a Cause

Photo by Katherine Brooks

Quanteria Sitton, our new Student Advocate for OpenDoors, graduated from Western Carolina University in May 2017 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Quan has many years of experience working with at-risk youth and youth with disabilities in the after-school and summer camp settings. She is a native of Asheville and offered to share her story here. 

        “I was raised in public housing by a single mother. I know all too well how hard it can be to beat the odds with no guidance and support. I can relate to the kids that we serve because I come from the same background as most of them. Growing up in the housing projects was not easy, people expected for you to fail and never make it out. I knew that I had a bigger purpose in life and needed to lead by example. In middle school I participated in AVID, a scholar based program to help you on the path to college. This program helped me realize the advantages of attending college; I knew that this was my way out.

In high school I participated in CAYLA, the City of Asheville’s Youth Leadership Academy, which gave me a leg-up in the college and professional worlds. AVID and CAYLA helped to give me the guidance and positivity I needed to make it. With their support, I learned how to apply for scholarships and keep up a good academic standing. By the end of my senior year I received enough scholarships to fully pay for all four years of college, and now I’m coaching our OpenDoors students to do the same.

I know what it takes to make it out of bad situations and hope that through our work at OpenDoors, and our many partnerships, I can guide other youth in my community. I want to show them that you can do anything you put your mind to. I managed to get myself through high school and college with self -motivation and determination.  I would like to accomplish many things in my career, but currently my main focus is to create a stable and fair path for the youth whom we serve.  They need guidance, like I had, to become successful and accomplish their goals. It is not about where you start; it’s the end result that matters!”