When I first heard about DACA, I was scared and happy—scared because I was coming out of the shadows and happy because that meant I could finally start working and saving money. It was the chance to be able to dream, the chance for a better future for myself and my daughter. I began my search for a career, which lead me to Phoenix, Arizona, and to Year Up.
Before Year Up, I was working at a drycleaners, living paycheck to paycheck, and taking classes part-time at Phoenix College. I had to take multiple jobs to ensure that my daughter had everything she needed. I wasn’t able to save, because all of my money went to paying for necessities. With all my bills paid, I was always left with less than $25 in my bank account. When I applied to Year Up, I felt there was nothing else to lose. I had to make a change for myself and my daughter.
At Year Up, I learned everything from how to properly shake a hand to how to be an effective public speaker. I initially struggled to keep up with my classes and step out of my comfort zone. I handled this by focusing on the reasons I started the program—the need for a better life. The support of my peers and the many opportunities to speak in front of people prepared me well for an internship at Bank of America. As an intern, I identified fraudulent activity on credit cards. My department at Bank of America was very supportive, helping me to realize that it is okay to make mistakes in the beginning as long as you learn from them. At the end of my internship, I was offered a job as Fraud Analyst II. I felt very proud that I kept believing in myself.
Today, I have a stable job and a savings account. I’m the secretary of the Year Up Arizona Alumni Association Board and am working toward a degree in Business. Year Up was the hardest but most rewarding time of my life. Without Year Up, I wouldn’t have known that there was this confident, smart, and strong person inside of me. I want my career to involve helping other young adults. DACA was a miracle for young adults like me. Because of it, we don’t need to live in fear, we can provide for our families, and we have the opportunity to be part of the economy and prove that we have potential, we matter, and we can make change happen.