Nichole moved her career & education forward and is helping others do the same.
When you hear that Year Up has served more than 26,000 young adults since its founding in 2000, it can be easy to overlook what a difference Year Up can make in the life of an individual and what that opportunity can really mean to a young adult. For Nichole Hou, a Year Up Jacksonville alumna, having the support of the Year Up community — including donors — was life changing.
Nichole immigrated to California from China at age 13. Living in San Francisco’s Chinatown, she grew up in a Chinese bubble where English fluency was not a necessity.
In her senior year of high school, a devastating divorce burst her bubble. She moved with her mother to a new town and was thrust into a new school where she struggled to adapt. Two years later with her GED in hand, Nichole was craving change and a college education — and her heart was telling her it was time to leave California.
But where to go? Her family had an acquaintance in Jacksonville who could help her get started. And so, with no college acceptance letter, limited English fluency, and little more than the clothes on her back, Nichole moved to Florida, eager to see what opportunities she could create for herself.
On her own for the first time, her path to college was uncertain at first. But with persistence, she figured out how to enroll, establish residency, and apply for financial aid while also developing her English skills. Juggling multiple jobs, she worked seven days a week while taking a small handful of college classes — but her degree seemed discouragingly far away. When she heard about Year Up from her accounting professor, she knew she’d found a way to speed up the pace. Thanks to the support of generous donors, Year Up Jacksonville had recently launched, making this opportunity possible for Nichole.
Nichole continued creating her unique path, this time as the first intern at Chase Mortgage in her department. While there have been many Year Up interns at other JPMorgan Chase sites, her position was a brand new opportunity. It turned out that JPMC was undergoing several organizational changes at the time — and change was something Nichole was learning to embrace.
With the support of her team at Year Up, she developed confidence that helped her navigate the evolving organization. Her manager recognized her potential to handle job tasks and her ability to adapt to a dynamic work environment. Nichole learned all she could, asking for more work and for feedback so she could start developing the skills she needed. By the end of the internship, she forged a new path once again — as the first Year Up hire on this Chase Mortgage team.
Today, Nichole continues growing and learning in her role at Chase Mortgage. She’s pursuing her bachelor’s degree in finance and plans to get her MBA. She also recently joined the JPMC Alumni Leadership Team where she’s creating training programs to help her fellow Year Up colleagues advance in their careers.