Unconditional positive support in your teen years can be life-changing, and it’s something many teens take for granted. But 18-year-old Emanuel Graham didn’t always have that luxury until he started working at McDonald’s. Yes, the fast food chain.
By the time Graham was 13, he had lost both of his parents and found himself without the parental support he needed to thrive. “After those years, I kept messing up in school because both of my biggest support systems, they were gone,” he told CBS. Graham went on to say, “I didn’t even think I’d make it to college—or senior year.”
That’s a lot of pressure for a teen to face alone, but while in high school, Graham started working at his local McDonald’s in Lynn, Massachusetts, where he met assistant manager Andrea De La Rosa. Turns out he was in for much more than a job because De La Rosa became a mentor and one of the adults cheering in Graham’s corner.
“When he came to me and said he wanted to apply [to college], I sat him down and we filled out applications on my lunch break,” De La Rosa told McDonald’s Corporate.
The teen gave De La Rosa the nickname “Mama McDonald’s” because she makes it a point to be there for her young employees. She even goes as far as to answer their late-night calls, as well as helping them with homework and their college applications.
“You never stop being a mother just because they’re not your kids,” De La Rosa told CBS. And thanks to Mama McDonald’s’ help, Graham is now a student at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, studying business.
Graham isn’t the only one who finds the support De La Rosa gives to be valuable. During an interview with CBS, one young employee said, “I don’t have a good relationship with my mother. Andrea gives me the mother figure that I never had.”
It seems that De La Rosa is leaving her impact on every teen that comes to work in her McDonald’s. Though Graham no longer works with the manager while he attends school, he says she continues to check in on him often to make sure he has what he needs.
“Every child deserves to have a parent or someone standing in their corner, the kids are our future and if they get the right push they can exceed and excel in life,” said De La Rosa to McDonald’s Corporate.
See the sweet interactions below: