Alumni profiles

Get to know some of our former Step Up interns.

Celia Hernandez-Payan

Celia often thinks back to how her Step Up experience put her life on a different path. “Without Step Up,” says Celia, “my life would have turned out very differently.” 

Through Step Up, Celia landed an internship at Hennepin County’s Office of Multicultural Services. Celia spent three summers helping people with paperwork, answering phones, interpreting, and community outreach. Celia credits this amazing experience to her pursuit of a Social Work career. While earning her BA in Social Work and Cross-Cultural Studies, she returned there and met her mentor, Jamie LICSW, who has been a great support along her journey. 

After she graduated Suma Cum Laude, Celia turned her eye to policy work. Returning to Augsburg for an MSW, she prepared herself for her current role as a Managed Care Omsbudman for the Department of Human Services.  

Celia encouraged her siblings, and would encourage others, to get involved in the program. Her sister is still works as a park coordinator, a path she started as a Step Up intern. “The Step Up program is a stepping stone that [most of] our parents can’t provide us. It’s a gift!” 

Mike Archer

“Fourteen is a critical age for kids – a time where kids are introduced to street essence,” says Mike Archer. “The best way to keep out of trouble is to work.” That is where the Step Up program comes in.  

Mike had several Step Up internship experiences including a mentor at CLUES and multiple roles at Metro Transit (most memorably was his year-end project at MCT making bus etiquette videos geared toward youth). However, Mike’s first experience was as a Community Service Star with Youth Care when he was about 14 years old. He enjoyed his experience so much that he continued to be involved as a camper and youth mentor. 

After Step Up, Mike went to Dunwoody to become an electrician. Now he works 3rd shift at General Mills maintaining the equipment that produces the cereal and yogurt that many of us eat every day. 

Mike recommends the Step Up program. He feels it is important for youth to get out of their comfort zone and Step Up has caring mentors to offer support. “Every kid should do it!” 

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505 Fourth Ave. S., Room 320
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