When I see someone like me – someone who might be struggling or feeling directionless – I always tell them about Year Up, the program that changed my life.

I went to school to become a nurse, but when I ran out of funds and had to drop out I began to work as a receptionist. When I had a baby things became more difficult because my family could not make ends meet with my receptionist job. I quit and became a nanny, which paid more. My new boss believed in me and encouraged me to return to school, which I thought was impossible.

One night, my husband and I saw a clip about Year Up on the news in which an alum shared how the program changed his life. It inspired me, but I put it on the backburner until I saw the news piece again a year later. This time, I signed up for an information session.

Having a child and going to Year Up was difficult, even with the support of my husband, but I would do it all over again. In addition to technical skills, Year Up taught me responsibility and accountability. It taught me to dedicate myself to my goals, rather than give up like I’d done in the past. The program offered an opportunity for my family and me to get ahead.

I was part of Year Up’s first intern class at Cisco Systems. As a Global Project Specialist, I helped my team with administrative duties, onboarding support, and asset tracking. Knowing I would be Cisco’s first impression of what Year Up students have to offer, I made sure I was taking initiative and being helpful during downtime. The culture at Cisco is different than my past jobs. It’s about getting your work done and adding value daily, not just filling out a time card.

Before my last day as an intern, Cisco offered me a position as a Business Analyst. I assumed I would be judged for not having a degree, but that did not happen. I graduated from Year Up with a great job at a Fortune 500 Company. It’s a dream come true. As a Business Analyst, I recruit candidates with college degrees, which is ironic because I don’t have one myself. I then help onboard them. It’s my favorite part of the job! I recently became the San Jose lead for onboarding. My goal is to grow in my career and work towards becoming a Project Manager to run my own program within Cisco.

I have referred a handful of young adults who are now Year Up students. Before the program, I was not a techie person. Now I work for one of the techiest companies in the world and I love what I do.