Growing up in Bayview-Hunter’s Point in San Francisco, I was expected to become another statistic – engage in violence, become a teen parent, not graduate from high school or attend college, become homeless or be dead at eighteen. I, along with my four older siblings, was placed into the foster care system because my mother was addicted to drugs. After watching my older sisters become teen parents and having people tell me I would be exactly like them, I knew that I wanted my life to go in a different direction, a positive direction.

After high school, I got a job at the San Francisco airport working for a retailer. After six months, I decided that life could be better. I had heard about Year Up through a program for emancipated foster youth and I thought I’d give it a try.

An open house, assessment exam, and three interviews later, I was accepted. I knew this was only the beginning of a life-changing journey and it wasn’t going to be easy.

I had to learn to change my priorities quickly if I wanted to make it – not just at Year Up, but also in the corporate world. I found out how critical it was to be on time, to submit assignments on time and how important it was to always look my professional best. It was a challenge, but fun, to learn technology and try new things. Thanks to Year Up and thanks to their partnership with Microsoft, I have tried programming, swapping out hardware, and installing new software.

After learning these essential skills, I earned an internship with Kaiser Permanente. Working at a hospital was anything but easy. However, I was able to learn new technologies and technical guidelines that were out in the corporate world. The Kaiser team leads took the time to personally show me the ropes as well as teach me new skills, ideas, and concepts. By the time I finished my internship with Kaiser, I knew that this was the field I wanted to work in and my ideal professional environment.

I acquired my first official IT job 11 months after I had completed the program with TEKsystems. I now work as an IT Technician at Gladstone Institutes. I have also earned my Associate’s Degrees in Computer Networking & Information Technology and Social & Behavioral Sciences from City College of San Francisco. I am currently a junior at California State University, East Bay.

I learned to never give up, that I can truly achieve my professional goals and that work can actually be a lot of fun. The road to success is never easy, but with the right support I know now I can make it and achieve my dreams.