Nisha turns his life around

Nisha Layda Ledesma knows what it’s like to be disengaged with school. To be homeless. To struggle with substance abuse and mental illness. Now, he wants to help others going through similar experiences.

Nisha Layda Ledesma was inspired to study youth work due to his own lived experience as a troubled youth.

Growing up, Nisha experienced a number of barriers and adversity, including homelessness, substance abuse and mental health concerns.

There were periods when he would become completely disengaged with school for months on end.

“There was one teacher who sat down with me at recess and asked me whether everything was alright at home,” says Nisha.

“That’s when everything changed. Youth workers started getting involved.

“That was not a turning point, but the start of something major.”

Nisha continued to face challenges and there was a time when he felt like he was going to waste away.

“When I was on the streets, there was a pivotal moment in my life where I looked around at where I was, I looked at all the people and what we were doing and I said, ‘I don’t want to be like this anymore’,” says Nisha.

“The only way that I believed I could change or attempt to get a better life was seeing youth workers every time I had an appointment. Even if I didn’t want to go, I’d always go.

“Seeing youth workers felt like a break from the streets and what was going on around me.”

Nisha decided to get his life on track. In time, he found stable accommodation and started earning an income.

After trying a few different jobs, he decided to enrol in Chisholm’s Certificate IV in Youth Work, so that he could make a difference to the lives of other young people going through tough times.

Throughout the course, Nisha showed a strong commitment to succeed.

“It was great to finally be in a class where people had the same ideas and wanted the same things as me,” says Nisha.

“Instead of the class being a competition, it was a class that was focussed on teamwork. We all could relate in some ways and we all got along well.”

Nisha described his teachers as ‘amazing’.

“If something was going on, the teachers would let you have a one-on-one after class if someone needed to talk,” he says.

“They listened to your questions and ideas and helped you understand to the best of their abilities. They made the classes fun and engaged.”

For his determination and strength against adversity, Nisha was nominated as Vocational Student of the Year at the 2023 Chisholm Education Awards.

Nisha is now working in youth work in residential care through Essential Personnel Services.

Some of the things he sees are confronting, but he finds the work rewarding.

“Even though there are bad days, there are good days as well and I know that hopefully I can try to support these young people in making a positive change in their lives,” he says.

Nisha would like to complete Chisholm’s Diploma of Community Services in the future.

Outside of work, he enjoys Muay Thai and boxing and would like to learn to draw and paint.