As a line cook, opportunities for upward mobility were scarce. I worked 12-hour daily shifts, sometimes for two straight weeks. I missed holidays, graduations and funerals, but, as a young father, I needed money to ease the burden of my personal responsibilities. I didn’t have goals for myself: I wanted more in life, but lacked the confidence and guidance to make a change.

Then, I heard about Year Up through a family member whose employer, T. Row Price, was hosting a Year Up intern. During the program, I learned how to conduct myself in Corporate America, and the basics of computer software and hardware. I learned how to stay motivated and tap into my inner talents. I had always been someone who listens more, and speaks only when needed. Year Up pushed me to get used to public speaking. I presented in front of my peers to conquer this challenge and face my fears head on.

I interned with the IT Systems Development Team for Johns Hopkins Hospital (JHH), performing a hybrid role that included Project Management and Technical Support. As an intern, I learned how to adapt to daily challenges and got real-world experience with different software, medical workflows, and technical terminology. It was challenging juggling my internship and work hours while being a parent, but as my internship came to an end, I was offered a contractor job at JHH.

Now, I work full-time at JHH as an IT Specialist for the Enterprise Systems Projects and Management Team. The best part about my job is that it’s a diverse working environment full of people from different cultures and with varying levels of experience. Every day is a new challenge and opportunity for me to excel. I have wonderful benefits for my family, can work from home when needed, and receive paid time off. Year Up led me on a prosperous path towards my career and unlocked new doors of opportunity.

David-Hasell-with-team-at-John-Hopkins-University---FIWhen I graduated from Year Up, I felt like a walking giant of success. I received the Excellence Award and two Core Value Awards – one for being accountable and one for respecting and valuing others. I am proud to be a model representative of Year Up at Johns Hopkins Hospital and know my experience opened opportunities for future Year Up students to intern here.

Some young adults do not have the support they need or the mindset to launch a career on their own. Having leaders that come from the same reality—leaders they can relate to and who believe in them—is important as young adults navigate the professional world. I see myself as a leader who can serve as an example for current Year Up students and it’s how I contribute to the Opportunity Movement.