Uplifting the Next Generation
Meet Mysonne, a 2021 Villa graduate who today proudly serves as a counselor for elementary students in our Dooley School. Mysonne says he discovered his passion for helping others while he was a student here himself, and that his educators set him on the path to tap into his potential.
Focusing on education was once an uphill battle for Mysonne as he faced challenges in and out of high school. On tougher days, anger would boil over into aggression. However, life began to turn around when he engaged the Villa’s Career and Transition Services (CATS).
The CATS team played a pivotal role in helping him realize his self-worth, and offered him what he needed most at the time – connection. “They introduced me to the world outside of the Villa,” he said.
Mysonne gained his first job opportunity through CATS working at a vegan restaurant, and was mentored by the restaurant owner. There, he developed communication skills and learned to be comfortable in a work environment. CATS also took him to a music studio, where he created music for the first time.
When Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger toured the Villa in 2020, Mysonne personally welcomed her to his school, and was invited to visit her office at the U.S. Capitol – which he did one month later.
All of these activities coordinated by CATS were designed to help Mysonne build confidence, life skills, and a plan for success after high school.
“Meeting the Villa staff was eye opening,” said Mysonne. “CATS showed me if you have a passion you want to pursue, you have to believe in yourself and put yourself in situations to progress your talents or your craft. Invest in yourself and take the risk.”
Now, in his new role as a counselor, Mysonne looks to his own experiences to provide guidance for younger students. He says that the students he works with remind him of himself before he came
to the Villa. First and foremost, he takes time to learn about each individual, understand their story, and meet them where they need to be met.
“If I know I’ve been through something in my life, and that child is going through the same thing at that moment, maybe I can take my experience and help them become a better person in their situation, or learn not to let that situation define them. I try to be an open book and help kids feel comfortable communicating what they need, so that we can help them achieve it.”
Mysonne plans to go back to school and continue expanding his skills in the field of youth counseling. He hopes to one day become a home-based counselor or clinician. But for now, he’s happy to be making a difference at the Villa while learning from the education services staff – now his colleagues!
“It feels incredible. It feels like I’m in the right space. You might have your challenges working with students, but you also have staff who are full of positive energy. Kids feed off of that energy. I know I want to be a part of that positivity.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever met a young person that was so plugged in to his goals or as self-aware in my 13-year career in youth development,” said Garland Guion, Program Lead of Operations for CATS. “Mysonne was such a gift to the Villa that made coming to work very easy. Essentially, all we had to do was hold a metaphorical mirror up so he could see just how talented and special he was, and we are all the better for it.”