Disability Case Manager at Liberty Mutual Insurance

Year Up Arizona

Class of January 2017

Michel Felix - GTI had just graduated from high school and as an undocumented person, I wasn’t eligible for financial aid to go to college. Despite wanting to go to college, I didn’t know how to make that happen—I didn’t have anyone to point me in the right direction. I started working in a call center but felt lost. When I heard about Year Up, I thought I would try it out.  

The program sounded too good to be true, but I wasn’t doing much else. I knew that I would get a stipend, college credits, and likely have a job at the end of it, and that was enough to say yes. By the third day of the program, I was surprised by how close I felt to a room full of strangers, and how much people were willing to share of their own stories.   

At Year Up, I learned a lot about myself. I used to be intimidated by people in high-level positions, but now I see everyone as just another person who started where I am. I became better at working with people, having patience, and maintaining focus. Initially, it was hard to have others in my life who did not understand how important this opportunity was. My coach at Year Up helped me stay focused on my goals and move forward.  

As an intern at Liberty Mutual Insurance, I assisted the long-term disability department, sending letters to patients and doctors. My colleagues made me feel important and valued—people counted on my work and I wasn’t just an extra person on the team. I had never worked in a corporate environment and was only just introduced to insurance, but I really felt welcome. I didn’t have much exposure to the medical system coming in, but that was my favorite part of the job. Managers and other employees took notice of how I communicated, came prepared, and always took notes. I was able to shadow people from other departments and learn more about the company.   

Before the end of my internship, I accepted a full-time role as a Disability Case Manager. Today, I have my own cases at Liberty Mutual, and know that I also want to pursue a degree. Currently, I’m working towards an Associate’s degree in business, but I am going to continue on to get a Bachelor’s degree. If it hadn’t been for this program, I might be taking college classes but I wouldn’t know what’s next. At Year Up, I found a clear path.  

As a Hispanic woman affected by DACA, it’s scary applying for programs because of the fear of being denied because of your status. I feel it’s my job to make other people in my position feel comfortable pursuing opportunity and believe that they can actually do it. We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but if you have the opportunity today, take the leap.