Year Up Bay Area Alum

Class of January 2011

Today, people don’t look at me and think that I was once on the wrong side of the Opportunity Divide or that it has played such a big part in shaping me. But living on the wrong side of opportunity was once my reality.

In 2008, I moved with my mother and siblings from Central America back to U.S. We were homeless for nearly six months while we tried to find housing. After we finally found an apartment, I was able to land a retail job, but I soon realized retail offered no opportunity for growth or learning. I cast about for options and found Year Up. At first I thought it was a scam—college coursework, a stipend, and no fees? But I took a chance and worked with my manager to adjust my schedule so I could attend.

In addition to teaching me important professional skills, Year Up helped me discover my love of technology. I was homeschooled and had very little exposure to computers growing up; with the help of my instructors, I learned an incredible amount about them very quickly. This experience taught me that no matter the circumstance, I’ll always find a way to learn.

My internship at Salesforce allowed me to grow even further. I worked on programs for the CIO—drafting and refining presentations, helping to design an IT Bootcamp, and ultimately designing a curriculum for future Year Up interns. I refined my business writing and presentation skills and got to interact with teams in other departments, which offered great insight into Salesforce at a moment of rampant company growth.

As my internship ended, I earned a contract position on the quality assurance team. I worked there for a year learning agile methodologies and project management before converting to a permanent role. Eventually, I made my way to the Sales Bootcamp team and spent three years working with the internal training department, honing my skills. Today, I run enablement at a cyber-security startup where I get to put those skills into practice.

In addition to my job, I am currently enrolled in school full-time. In a few months, I will graduate with an associate’s degree, and then I’ll transfer to a bachelor’s anthropology program. Going forward, I plan to pursue an advanced degree in paleoanthropology and become a college professor.

I can’t imagine how different my life would be without Year Up. My success in the program enabled me to grow and help provide for my family. Today, I genuinely enjoy my job, I’m earning a degree in my dream field, my family is living comfortably, and my siblings are all on track to earn their own degrees. I’ve put in the work, I’ve tested my limits, and I’ve learned that nothing can hold me back.