“PACE Girl” now leading school she attended 20 years ago
Kristal Aviles recently named associate executive director of the PACE Center for Girls
TALLAHASSEE, Fla (WCTV) - The PACE Center for Girls in Leon County is welcoming its new director and for the first time in the center’s history, she is a former “PACE girl” herself.
Kristel Avilus says she was failing 8th grade and wound up at the PACE center at age 13, got pregnant at 15, and married at 18.
Fast forward to today, Avilus now has a master’s degree in social work from Florida State and is excited for the opportunity to help other girls be the very best they can be.
“When you were at PACE all those years ago, could you ever have imagined that you would come back one day and be the director of this program?”
“No, definitely not,” Avilus said. “They’ll laugh and they’re like ‘Oh my gosh you’re real!’ and it’s like yes, you’re me. You can be right here. I won’t be here forever. So I think it really hits home to people. They can see it’s tangible and it’s real.”
Avilus attended PACE in Tallahassee from 2001 to 2003. She says she knows firsthand how hard it can be for teens to find their way.
“I was bullied a lot. I spoke differently. I looked differently. I definitely dressed differently. So just fitting in and finding my own groove. It was hard,” she said.
Avilus was named associate executive director in January, saying it’s a great privilege to help these young women graduate and pursue their dreams.
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