mahoganymontgomeryMost people are left to flounder once out of high school, and with Year Up I was able to keep learning. When I started the program, I had no job and no stable place to live, but I was eager to learn.

In my first 21 weeks I learned so much! Year Up taught me how to utilize Microsoft Office applications and communicate professionally, but also how to collaborate with my peers and staff to achieve success. Most surprising was that within the first week, we became a close and supportive community. I had never been encouraged to be a part of a community like this at the community college and public schools I attended before.

I interned at Liberty Mutual Agency Corporation, and it was amazing. The environment was warm, productive and collaborative, and everyone was supportive of my learning and development. I learned that hard work can be both fulfilling and empowering.

After graduating, with the confidence and interpersonal communications skills I developed at Year Up, I landed a job as an administrative assistant at Aerotek. One of my favorite aspects of my job is that it demands a lot of communication, time management and multi-tasking. To me, completing the Year Up program meant that I was ready to be a young professional. Before, Corporate America seemed out of my reach. Now, when I hear CEO, CIO, vice president or board member, I am not intimidated.

In the future, I see myself with an education and a career that makes me excited to wake up at the crack of dawn every morning, ready to make a change, and I see myself working to close the Opportunity Divide.

The most important thing I learned from my “year up” is to never give up hope, even though as a young adult in pursuit of happiness it often seems perilous. Success isn’t graduating or getting a job; success is every day of hard work that leads up to that point and how one demonstrates competence to the world.