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Tatiana Beltre and Sakara Sharp's Journey from Year Up to Success at Bank of America

Meet Tatiana Beltre and Sakara Sharp. The two Year Up alumnae have achieved noteworthy milestones – both personal and professional – since graduating from the Year Up program. Today, they work full time at Bank of America, a Year Up partner since 2007. In this Q&A, we learn about some of those achievements, as well as the advice they have for those interested in following in their footsteps. 


Thanks for sharing your story! Let’s start at the beginning. Can you tell me what you were up to before Year Up?

Tatiana: Before Year Up, I was homeless and working at a pizza place. It was tough because I knew the level I wanted to be at, but I didn’t know how to get there. Putting myself in debt to go through school just wasn’t an option – and at that point in my life, I was surviving and not living. My family wasn’t in a position to support me financially either, so it was on me to make a change. 

Sakara: From the very beginning, I knew the traditional college route wasn’t going to be the best option for me. Throughout K-12 I was homeschooled and got to experience many different hands-on opportunities. I eventually realized that hands-on learning would be the best choice for me. I also had to acknowledge that college wasn’t something I felt really prepared to do from a maturity perspective. I’ve always had a love for technology, but I wasn’t sure how to make it happen without the degree. 


I’d love to hear about your experience during the Learning & Development phase of the Year Up program. What was it like for you?

Tatiana: It was challenging but worth it. Year Up helped me feel really prepared to take on my internship. My typical day on the business operations track started with classes in the morning, one-on-one coaching in the afternoons, and around 3:30pm I’d finish and head to my part-time job at the pizza place. It made the days long, and sometimes it made it difficult for me to keep up with the work. But as long as you communicate that to Year Up staff, they will support you. The learning and development phase really helped me understand how to network at a higher level – which helped me get the role I’m in now! 

Sakara: I made three really close friends! We went to classes, ate lunch, and did our assignments together. It really helped to have them as a support system. We motivated each other to work hard and succeed together. During the learning and development phase on the software development track, I learned how to program using Swift, Java, HTML, Databases, and Agile, which is a skill I use almost every day in my current role. I currently work at Bank of America as a Scrum Master. My role is dedicated to ensuring that my team is supported and understands the framework of Scrum. I really enjoy being able to connect with people and continuing to learn and grow as an individual.  


That’s great to hear you both felt supported! Can you tell me about your experience during the internship phase of the program?

Tatiana: During the internship, I worked with my manager to stay on top of tasks and submit a status report by the end of each week. Those learnings translated really well, and I really appreciated the one-on-one support given to me by my manager at the time. 

Sakara: The internship phase for me was a true 9-5 role. Despite it being fully virtual, I was able to accomplish a lot and see what it’s like in different positions such as tech analyst, developer, and scrum master. It was great to have the opportunity and encouragement to try so many things. That’s definitely something I like about the culture here at Bank of America. 


Any part of the journey you’re excited about or particularly proud of since graduating from Year Up?

Tatiana: I’m proud to say I’m at a point where I’m not just making ends meet, but truly enjoying my life. It puts me in a position where I can enjoy time with my family and feel at ease knowing we have the resources to care for one another. 

Sakara: I’m proud of all the hard work and dedication that I poured into improving my life. I was able to purchase my own home at 19 years old! It was a major dream of mine to be able to do that, and now my siblings and peers can see that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.  


That’s really inspiring. Any advice you want to share with someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

Tatiana: It’s okay to ask for help. People want to help you, but they can’t if they don’t know you need it. When doing the Year Up program and my part-time job got overwhelming, I spoke up about it. Because of that, I was able to get extra coaching and help with my assignments. 

Sakara: Everyone’s path is different, and college isn’t for everyone. If you are hungry to learn and grow, then open the door when opportunity knocks. Together, we can change the norm. 


From facing adversity to achieving personal and professional milestones with the support of Year up and Bank of America, Tatiana and Sakara inspire us with their stories of support and dedication. What’s next for Tatiana and Sakara? Both envision growing their careers at Bank of America, for one. Individually, Tatiana hopes to soon become a homeowner, while Sakara is planning for her dream role: Chief Technology Officer. Everyone’s path is different, and we at Year Up are honored to be part of the journey.