Data Collections Associate at Crossmark

Year Up New York

Class of July 2012

Not many people, who grow up the way I have, and who come from where I’m from, have the opportunity to attend an Ivy League institution or work at a Fortune 500 company. As a first generation high school and college graduate, I’ve done both. After interning at BNY Mellon, I am now getting my Masters in Social Work from Columbia University.

I was raised in Moore House Projects in the South Bronx. Before joining Year Up, I was attending community college and playing football. Then, in my second year, I blew out my knee, requiring season-ending surgery. After graduating with my associate’s degree, I returned home in a slump, as I wasn’t interested in pursuing school without football. I lived spontaneously, day-to-day, not knowing what would come next.

I needed to find a job—and that’s how I found Year Up. I applied, not knowing what to expect, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. Throughout the program, I learned the importance of mentorship, advocacy, collaboration, and leadership. To this day, I continue to work on living up to Year Up’s core values, including valuing others, being accountable, and embracing diversity. I also learned business norms, such as how to give an elevator pitch and the nuances of language use. The hardest part of training was keeping up with the pace of the work, so I reached out to others to form study groups, and together, we overcame many obstacles.

Following training, I interned at BNY Mellon. Though I had trained in quality assurance at Year Up, I worked primarily in financial operations at BNY Mellon, while also developing skills as a business analyst. I was busy from the start to the end of the day. My responsibilities included completing the weekly billing status report and designing and implementing an account catalog with information on administrators’ individual accounts.

Through my internship, I learned to embrace and take advantage of different learning opportunities. At the end of my internship, I knew I wanted to return to school, and through my involvement in the Year Up community, I developed an interest in social work. I graduated from CUNY York College, magna cum laude, and was accepted into three different master’s programs earning a scholarship to each.

When I graduate with my master’s degree, I plan to become a licensed social worker and then pursue a PH.D in social work. Eventually, I would like to work on implementing policies that challenge the traumas of mass incarceration, while also teaching social work policy or field courses. I am inspired to give back, by mentoring others the way people mentored me. Without Year Up, I believe I still would have had a bright future. However, Year Up helped that light shine brighter.

If you’re interested in sharing your story or recommending an alum, complete the student story nomination form.