The words ‘super’ comes up a lot in her descriptions of her time at CityKidz. The bus, the theatres, the volunteers: super cool, super fun, and super nice respectively.
“Everything was just so much fun that I didn’t even mind waking up at 8:00 in the morning on a Saturday,” she says.
In addition to all the fun that came with each CityKidz Saturday, Marilia credits the program with helping her develop her sense of both herself and the world.
“It really helped me develop my own opinions and perspective on who I should be and how I should treat others,” says Marilia, explaining her appreciation for the unique opportunity to explore new ideas on her own terms.
This budding curiosity and independent thinking wasn’t just important to Marilia, but to her parents as well. Her father, Vitor, saw CityKidz as an opportunity to give his children “a broader perspective of the world.”
“She has to see with her own eyes what’s right, what’s wrong,” Vitor explains. “If I tell her, she’s just gonna follow my instructions. I’m just the guide. She is the person that makes the decision. That’s the way it should be.”
And that’s the way it is with Marilia. She’s self-assured and humble, competent and curious. She’s smart, but never arrogant. She’s always looking to expand her horizons and isn’t shy to ask questions or question her opinions.
With this growth mindset, joining CityKidz youth mentorship program was a natural transition when Marilia turned 12.
Living so close to CityKidz, Marilia’s mom would drive her and her brother, Aldo, to CityYouth each Wednesday evening. They would arrive about half an hour before the buses dropped off their peers and Marilia would use that time to do homework and talk to mentors. She also made friends from all over the city. always looked forward to Wednesday nights,” says Marilia. “I remember always feeling safe and knowing that there would always be someone to listen to me if I had some kind of problem.”
Whether she was working through “typical mean girls stuff” at school or the general anxieties of growing up, Marilia says, “CityYouth showed me that it would be OK.”
While CityYouth helped to build Marilia’s self-confidence, at Roadmaps to Dreams she developed the practical skills – like interviewing and resume writing – she needed to take the next steps towards independence.
“I found all that stuff really helpful,” says Marilia. “Especially because I put it into practice to get the job I have now. I always admire the program because I wish I’d had that in high school. I don’t feel like careers [class] really covered it.”
Thinking back on her mentorship experience at CityKidz and how it has impacted her life, she hones in on the encouragement, support and respect from the staff and volunteers.
And in terms of making her big dreams a reality, succeed she has.
Marilia first told us about her dream of studying biology and chemistry to one day become a high school teacher.
Now, just a few short years later, Marilia is in her second year of a biochemistry degree at McMaster University (and a CityKidz Education Fund scholarship recipient). However, her career ambitions have changed, as they so often do when exposed to new ideas, experiences and opportunities.
A first-year project on antibiotic resistance piqued her problem-solving brain and set her on a new career path.
“Something in me was like, I want to fix that; I want to work on that,” explains Marilia.
Following that spark of curiosity, Marilia started working at a pharmacy. Seeing her colleagues in action confirmed her desire to become a pharmacist.
“Hopefully in five years I’ll be done pharmacy school and I’ll be a pharmacist working in a lab or a hospital. That’s the professional dream,” says Marilia.
“My personal dream is to be able to give my parents what they’ve given me. I want to be able to take care of them and show them how much I appreciate them.”
Her parents, for their part, just want Marilia to be happy. They’re proud of her for exactly who she is and have full confidence that she will achieve whatever she sets her kind, curious and clever mind to. And if you asked any of the mentors, volunteers or staff who have walked alongside Marilia throughout her decade attending CityKidz programs, they’d surely agree.