Ebony, a 15-year-old freshman at Erie High School, has a thought for every coil that composes their curls.
The outspoken, outgoing teenager represents the juxtaposition that so many their age do as they learn about themselves. They compliment a girl’s outfit in the hallway, but blush and cover their face when a kind word comes their way. They describe other teens in relationships at school as ‘lame’ before mentioning that they want the upcoming discussion to finish in time to see their crush at lunch.
You know, teenage stuff.
But as Ebony navigates the tropes of every teen movie ever, they also take on topics and issues well beyond their years. They take care of scheduling doctor’s appointments. They get groceries for their family. They describe themselves as ‘hypersensitive’ with intense, overwhelming emotions, and speak of wanting to learn more coping skills and become completely medication adherent.
As they navigate life, they do not travel alone – by their side is a Blended Case Manager from the Achievement Center of LECOM Health to provide resources and assistance where needed.
Blended Case Management
Ebony and their Blended Case Manager, Latrice Waller, have worked together since August 2022. After transitioning from other services, Ebony was aware they would need support navigating and linking to the necessary resources to help them evolve into a successful, thriving high school student ever-quickly becoming a young adult.
“With Latrice [and BCM services], I needed to know someone was on my side. Latrice is patient with me, even when I’m wrong. That there was someone to correct me, but still be on my side…I needed that,” Ebony said.
Since starting together, Ebony has been connected with an assistance fund to purchase clothes for school, made the semifinals of a poetry competition, and joined the Upward Bound program at school, which provides collegiate preparation support to students from low-income families and/or students from families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree.
Even amidst struggles in their home and personal life, Ebony has soared at school, especially in their favorite classes, Digital Literacy and Ecology.
“Ebony is tenacious,” Waller said. “When faced with challenges, they find a way to overcome it. They’re a warrior in their own bubble.”
Getting connected to basic needs and linked to resources that challenge and support them are the kind of foundational tasks that Blended Case Managers assist individuals and families with. For Ebony, their confidence has improved with the help of Blended Case Management. They have goals to continue gaining confidence and express a desire for self-discovery and developing their self-identity even while facing their own fears and anxieties.
“I’m a 15-year-old girl, but I feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders,” Ebony said. “There’s always that little girl on my shoulder saying, ‘Go fit in, you’re standing out too much.”
With a personality like theirs – one that Waller calls ‘vivacious,’ standing out sometimes is inevitable. But as they learn what it means to stand out, standing by their side is their Blended Case Manager, Latrice, ready to partner on whatever comes next.