During the pandemic, Asia Bryant’s mental health began to suffer. The social isolation disconnected her from friends, compromised activities that gave her purpose and advanced her goals, and intensified family issues as well as adverse feelings she has been dealing with for a while.
“I felt anxious, worried and depressed,” said Asia, who is 17. “I told my mom that I wanted to see a therapist and she agreed.”
Asia began counseling at Southwest Solutions last September with clinician Emma Urbain. Emma is also part of our Cornerstone team. Cornerstone helps young people who are in systems of care learn the life skills they need to be successful and independent as they transition to adulthood.
“The counseling with Emma helped me process what I was feeling and develop coping skills,” Asia said. “I really enjoyed Cornerstone group, too, and looked forward to it every week. It helped me with my social anxiety, and I made friends in the program who understand what I’m experiencing.”
Asia is a senior at Renaissance High School in the city. She is a stellar student and a high performer in pursuit of her goals. She is an executive officer in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) program at Renaissance, overseeing activities of the 200 cadets at the school and also district-wide JROTC activities. Asia intends to continue ROTC in college and then enlist in the service as an officer after her degree. She is especially interested in a program offered by the Navy in nuclear engineering.
“I’ve wanted to be an engineer since I was in third grade and our class toured the Henry Ford estate,” Asia said. “I love creating things and solving problems, and the tour showed me how cool engineering is.”
Among Asia’s other interests are poetry, painting and travel. She spent a month studying in France this past summer, and she looks forward to exploring other places and cultures as her life unfolds.
“I really want to contribute something to the world to help make it a better place.” Asia said.
Asia participated in the recent Cornerstone Celebration of Accomplishments. The annual event recognized the successes of the 50 youth who are currently in the program. For the second consecutive year, the celebration was held virtually because of the pandemic. Asia tuned in, and she also volunteered to share her story for this article.
“I don’t believe that mental health should be a taboo subject, and I am very open about my experiences,” Asia said. “I encourage anyone who is having mental health issues to seek help. I know firsthand how beneficial therapy can be.”
The certificate of accomplishment that Asia received from Cornerstone is “for achieving all A’s and B’s, being awarded college scholarships and a scholarship to study in France, being promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in JROTC, and always staying kind and true to your values in the face of adversity.”
Other Cornerstone participants who attended the celebration included:
- Ricardo Arroyo, recognized “for consistent attendance in Cornerstone group, ability to identify triggers and ability to reach out for support as well as self-cope.”
- Melisa Cardoso, recognized “for starting senior year, improving your grades, and being an amazing sister, daughter, and friend to those around you.”
- Hugo Coria, recognized “for joining Cornerstone, reconnecting with friends and loved ones, prioritizing your health, making honor roll, and always doing what you can to learn and grow as a person.”
- Daijanai Finley, recognized “for joining Cornerstone, working to improve grades, maintaining a part-time job, expressing your voice, and being the best support human to Dice.”
- Tajuan Gaskin, recognized “for maintaining academic goals, coping with grief and increasing consistency with addressing medical needs.”
- Sarai Guevara, recognized “for participating in Cornerstone groups, taking steps toward independence, sharing your amazing art with the world, and never giving up on learning and growing love for yourself and those around you.”
- Juanita Kiser, recognized “for joining Cornerstone, engaging in therapy, strengthening important relationships, and working hard toward a good future.”
- Joseph Ruta, recognized “for starting a new school, working a summer job, and finding joy and adventure this year.”
“We had a lot of fun together at our 7th annual Cornerstone Celebration of Accomplishments,” said Melodi Litkouhi, Cornerstone Program Manager. “It’s always nice to take time out to appreciate and celebrate our clients’ progress with their families, especially these past two years dealing with so many stressful changes. We are proud of each and every one of our Cornerstone members!”