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An Interview with Ariana

Former TKTC program participant and youth ambassador Ariana Penalosa sits down with our Communications Coordinator Jeevan to tell us more about her journey to the Inaugural King's Trust Gala.

Jeevan: Tell me about your experience going to New York as a youth ambassador for TKTC!

Ariana: It was a trip of so many firsts. First time in New York City, first time meeting so many important people and celebrities, first time speaking to such a large crowd, first time reading a message from His Majesty King Charles III!

Jeevan: Wait, let me get this straight: you got to read a message from His Majesty to a room filled with celebs? Was that intimidating? Have you done public speaking before?


Ariana: I was honoured to read his Majesty’s message and I had done some public speaking when I was in high school as a part of my student council, but they were my peers, so this was different. 

Jeevan: Who is more intimidating? High school classmates or celebrities and leaders of industry? 

Ariana: 100% high schoolers! I felt really supported by the room and by The King’s Trust team. Everyone really made me feel like family and like I could do anything I set my mind to. I felt safe.

Jeevan: How did it feel going from some of the harder chapters in your life, which included homelessness and unemployment, to being a youth ambassador at the gala? 

Ariana: Someone I really look up to told me that confidence comes from accomplishments. And going from darker days, where its just about survival mode, to experiencing this huge accomplishment, I felt proud of myself and confident. It really was life changing. My life changed the day I met The King’s Trust Canada!

Jeevan: At TKTC we are all about skills and we believe you can develop them anywhere, so what skills do you think you got out of attending the gala?

Ariana: Public speaking, presentation skills, dealing with the media, and networking. It was like wow I just met former Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper or pop star Sam Smith!

Jeevan: I heard you were with a whole crew of young people that The King’s Trust Group has helped from around the world. What was it like meeting them? 

Ariana: When we met, we were all asking each other how we ended up here. And despite coming from America, the U.K. and the Caribbean, we all shared such similar stories. We had been in situations where we didn’t feel in control, but wanted better for ourselves and we were all given unique opportunities through The King’s Trust Group, and we just took those opportunities and ran with them, and our lives were changed forever!

Jeevan: You have really had a lot of life experiences Ariana, so what would be your best advice for young people?

Ariana: I think, know yourself. Because people will have their opinions about you, but you can’t let that define you. Be true to yourself. 

Jeevan: And what would you tell other young people who are not yet sure if they should sign up to one of The King’s Trust Canada's programs? 

Ariana: Hmmm I’d issue a challenge: “I did it. Now I want to see you do it to!”

Jeevan: Thank you so much Ariana. It’s been an absolute pleasure!