I wanted to be the kid from “the block” who did something different with his life. I’m from Jamaica, Queens, a place where many people that I grew up with didn’t know what Wall Street is, or what it takes to succeed in Corporate America.

After high school, I started working full-time as a dietary aid and attending college part-time. These were all great things, but I’d always wanted more for myself. I knew a four-year degree alone wouldn’t get me the access to Corporate America that I’d dreamt of without hands-on experience. That’s when a mentor of mine, Leslie King, forwarded me an email about Year Up; I decided to give it a shot.

What stood out immediately was how motivated the staff members were to see us succeed. One example of this is when I lost two family members. The whole Year Up community—and particularly my mentor, who has remained a mentor for almost ten years—was a source of energy and inspiration. With their support, I stayed focused on my end goal, which was to be someone the kids in my neighborhood could look up to. Before long, they had helped me find enough confidence to say, “I can do this. I know how to do this. I’m actually pretty good at it.”

In 2007, I interned at Lehman Brothers as an Operations Analyst. Though I was working with college graduates, I always felt like a valuable member of the team. My manager was very supportive and made the environment welcoming. Even though I was an intern with only a high school diploma, he believed I could do the work.

After Lehman, I worked a variety of roles with companies such as Barclays, American Express, and Atalaya, which have all assisted with taking my career to the next level. Today, I work at JPMorgan Chase as a Compliance Associate in their Global Compliance Operations Division. The research and investigation process allows me to understand how businesses are transacting on a daily basis. In addition, I serve on Year Up New York’s Board of Directors, where I continue to mentor and share my story with current students.

It has been eight years since I completed Year Up, and I still have a hunger to learn and advance. I’ve graduated from SUNY Empire State with my Bachelor’s in Business Management and Economics, and my next goal is to help others move up the ladder as I did.

I don’t want to just work for a corporation—I want to put my own stamp on the world.

My Year Up journey was complete when I graduated—I was on the career path I had always wanted. But that was just the start. Year Up has a mission to close the Opportunity Divide and they are actively doing it. I hope to continue to contribute to the mission by inspiring not just folks from “the block,” but young adults everywhere.