Dimitar's YMCA Triumph | From Shelter to Engineer Student

Last updated: January 5, 2024, at 12:26 p.m. PT

Originally published: January 5, 2024, at 12:22 p.m. PT

Young man in graduation gown holding a diploma

Meet Dimitar, a brilliant mind from Bulgaria who encountered formidable challenges on his quest to pursue artificial intelligence engineering in the United States. Picture a determined 17-year-old Dimitar, arriving in Redmond with just $500 and a backpack of clothes, fueled by a dream to become an artificial intelligence engineer. The complexity of starting anew hit him hard, “I left the country thinking it would be easy. However, I was proven wrong when I came to Redmond on the second of December 2021,” shared Dimitar.

Dimitar was met with the stark reality that dreams often require more than determination. As he put it, “Days later, after I first came to the United States, I realized I will need help to start a new life.” That’s when the Y Social Impact Center’s South King County Youth Shelter came into Dimitar’s life. The shelter swiftly became his lifeline. The staff helped arrange transportation and provided more than shelter – they offered a support system grounded in empathy and understanding.

Navigating a new educational system presented challenges. Despite his academic prowess, he was placed in ninth grade at the age of 17, far behind others for his age. With guidance from his Y therapist, Dimitar told staff he wanted to drop out of high school to pursue a General Education Diploma so he could get to university sooner. Y staff recognized Dimitar’s unique journey and advised him to wait until the end of the semester, ensuring he could follow through with his engagement in Auburn High School’s robotics team. Excelling in the high school robotics team and securing straight A’s, Dimitar flourished and pursued his GED thanks to the thoughtful guidance and supportive environment at the youth shelter.

Y staff recognized Dimitar’s potential and nurtured his dreams. Besides helping him study for his GED, staff also helped him enroll in the Y’s employment training program so that he could build a work resume and secure a job when necessary. Dimitar shares, “While the staff were trying to get me out of the school system, they did not give up. I was studying for the GED test.” The Y supported Dimitar in all aspects of his life. They helped him develop healthier relationships critical to overall wellbeing. Dimitar went from not socializing with his peers to having a robust social life. This holistic approach empowered him academically and mentally, breaking barriers that hindered his well-being and academic journey. That summer,

Dimitar successfully passed the GED test and is now enrolled in Bellevue College, well on his way to becoming an engineer. Dimitar’s success story is a testament to donors like you who believe in young people. As we celebrate Dimitar’s triumphs, we want to thank you. Learn
more about how the Y surrounds young people with care >>