A turning point for me was when I was fired from my retail job. I had been there almost three years, and I stopped putting in the effort. I was a college dropout, and I didn’t have a next step.

I remember walking out of the store, wearing that uniform I no longer needed. I walked over to the bus stop and called my sister. She asked, “What’s your plan?” I had no answer. Should I look for another job or give school another try? School and work were my main priorities, but I had no way of completing them both. Financial struggles were something all too familiar to my family. I was determined to break that trend, but I was out of school, out of work, out of hope.

A few days later, doing my routine Facebook browse, I saw my friend Jose tagged in a photo album titled “Graduation”. I saw him accepting his Year Up diploma, holding his son on stage. He was appreciative when I congratulated him, and he used the conversation to push me to enroll at Year Up.

I came to my Year Up interview wearing all black, high top converse sneakers. My interviewer looked down and said, “Hmm, those don’t work.” Now I knew that before I came in, but the last time I wore dress shoes was prom in 2007. Clothing wasn’t the only change I had to make. Before, I was the guy who showed up late, who sat in the back row of all my classes, who turned in homework done on crumpled pieces of paper pulled from my pocket. I never actually wanted to be there; I was normally the first one out the door when class ended.

It wasn’t until I had a conversation with my advisor that I realized I needed to change. I told her, “Year Up is something I can’t fail at. I literally have nothing else.” She said, “In Year Up, you get back what you put in.” Something must have resonated in me during that conversation. The depression of recent failure was replaced by motivation to succeed. I was no longer afraid, and I chose to rededicate myself as a student. So I got to school 45 minutes early every day and typed out all my assignments even when handwritten was acceptable.

With the support of the Year Up staff, my fellow classmates and my coworkers at WilmerHale, I was transformed. I was hired at WilmerHale and since graduation, I have transferred to the Los Angeles office from the Boston office. I am a Deskside Support Specialist and I am also working towards technical certificates related to Information Technology. I found my key to success at Year Up.