Becoming a nurse, learning multiple languages, traveling the world and exploring different cultures. These are the plans of Doralice Maira da Silva Santos, 19, who today works as a young apprentice for a chain of drugstores in Maceió, Alagoas (northeast Brazil). This is her first job.

“I want to keep working, to study nursing at college and to participate in a student exchange program for learning English," she says. "I want to follow my dreams."

Getting to this point wasn’t easy. As with many people her age, Doralice’s first job is a challenge. She’s the youngest child of Jadiel Augusto dos Santos, who owns a fishing supply shop, and Maria José da Silva, a housewife. Her two brothers were advised to value education at a young age, but Doralice's path has been more challenging.

Doralice was eight years old when she lost her eldest brother. He had a rare disease and passed away in 2005 at age 15. In 2013, her other brother died from electric shock. He was only 18.

At the time, Doralice was 16. “It was a trauma for me," she recalls. "After that, I was quite lost. I was nearly depressed, but I could find the courage to help my parents. My friends and relatives also helped me a lot."

After finishing high school, she decided to take some time before applying to university. “I had passed a very troubled period of time, so I thought of having some rest, taking a course and afterwards looking for some job,” she says.

Doralice Maira da Silva Santos

Doralice sent her resume to many companies, but nothing panned out. Her lack of experience hurt her pursuit of a job, but she didn't give up. She remembered being interested, years before, in taking part in the Coletivo Jovem at Instituto Coca-Cola, but not being old enough. Seeing a friend "like" the initiative on social media reignited her interest.

Coletivo Jovem prepares young people between the ages of 16 and 25 for the job market by boosting their self-esteem and providing connections to employment opportunities. Doralice participated in Coletivo Jacintinho in May and June, 2016. 

“I’d already had some interviews for jobs, but they wanted people with some experience and confidence. I had nothing like that," she says. "After taking part in Coletivo, I felt prepared and confident when I was applying to jobs. It was not easy, there were some stages, but I was approved!” Doralice credits the support she received from educator Arla Virgínia dos Santos.

Doralice Maira da Silva Santos

'I try to show my students that, no matter the social context we live in, we can have conquests if we study and dedicate ourselves.' -- Arla, Coletivo educator

Arla, 24, remembers her student as a shy girl at first. “I tried to make her feel comfortable in the group. We talked, we played and then she let it go. Now she talks a lot," Arla notes. “When the opportunity came for the drug store, I explained to Doralice that she had received some ‘no's’ and that now she had to search for a ‘yes’. I try to show my students that, no matter the social context we live in, we can have conquests if we study and dedicate ourselves. My greatest satisfaction here is seeing people like me, who came from the outskirts, making plans, beeing motivated.”

For five months, from Monday to Friday, Doralice has worked with suppliers, organized products and learned to deal with customers and coworkers. 

“Every day I am learning new things,” she says, encouraging others to take part in Coletivo. “Don’t think twice, do it! Dedicate youself so you will become more qualified. Do your best and you will be able to practice everything you’ve learned.”

Doralice already has goals for 2017. “I’m going to apply to nursing school. There’s nothing better than helping people when they most need help.”