I moved to Lexington, MA when I was thirteen, straight from Mexico City. We lived in an apartment paid for by my mom’s boss, and I attended high school in Lexington. After graduating from high school, my options were very limited, nearly non-existent. I was living in the U.S. on a tourist visa, so I couldn’t apply to jobs or receive financial aid to go to school. I started applying to jobs, hoping that I could get hired as an illegal immigrant. Finally, I was hired at a clothing store. I worked there for four years and was stuck there since I didn’t have any other options. Though I was promoted twice, I felt like I was waiting indefinitely to have an actual career or do something more meaningful.

When DACA was finally approved, I got my chance. I had heard about Year Up because my husband went through the program. I knew it was the perfect stepping stone to make up for the past four years. My biggest challenge—years spent without any options—was behind me. As soon as I was accepted to Year Up, I was ready to do everything in my power to succeed. I was ready to do something with my life and take on any challenges.

At Year Up, I learned about perception—how to present myself, approach people, and network. It helped me later on at my internship with State Street Corporation. I was super excited to start my internship; for me, getting the job was the most important part of Year Up. At first, I wasn’t getting enough work or training during my internship, so I spoke with my manager to set expectations for the last three months of my internship. I told him I wanted to learn everything I could. The last three months were exactly what I had hoped for: I was given a lot of work, training, and responsibilities. Right before my last day, a spot on the team opened up and I was offered the job.

Today, I’m a Client Service Representative and handle the relationship of 16 investment managers. With the knowledge I’ve gained over the past two years, I’m ready for the next step, and my manager agrees that I’m qualified to take on a more senior role. I don’t think I would have gotten a chance to be part of the corporate world without Year Up. Going through Year Up and working at State Street gave me the opportunity to prove that immigrants are hungry, dedicated, willing to learn and work to be successful—in our jobs, for our families, and for the country. We want to contribute to the success of the U.S. We just need an opportunity to get there and Year Up provided just that.