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Latest Blog Posts

Capital campaign officially kicks off!

Posted September 21

SER publicly announced its Pathways to Potential capital campaign with a news conference held at the site of its new... Read more...

3 SER Amigos Gala Celebration

Posted August 9

3 SER Amigos Gala Honoring Stephen Fraga, Rick Jaramillo and Armando Perez October 6, 2017 Co-Chairs Paige and Bart... Read more...

Construction Underway on New Workforce Opportunity Center

Posted August 9

Construction Underway on New Workforce Opportunity Center Set to open April 2018 in Houston’s East End, featuring... Read more...

Brittany Torres

After spending years in the foster care system, Brittany Torres began hanging out with the wrong crowd and dropped out of high school at the age of 17.

 

“High school was challenging for me. I was always skipping class, having problems with the teachers,” said Brittany. “What made me drop out of school was my own decisions. I made poor decisions and I hung out with the wrong crowd and doing drugs. You know, going [down] the wrong path…not doing the right thing.”

 

Fiercely independent, Brittany thought she could handle adulthood on her own without an education. But reality set in when at 22, she realized her life had not changed, advanced, or progressed much since she dropped out.

 

“[The 5 years I spent], between the time I dropped out of High School until I went to SER, I was living paycheck to paycheck,” said Brittany. “I was paying rent and paying bills… just living to work.”

Tired of constantly struggling, Brittany took steps to make a change.

“I [decided] that minimum wage wasn’t for me,” said Brittany. “I [got] my TWIC card and started working in the refineries – this is how I began to make more and how I came up a little bit.”

“But again, working in the refineries, if you don’t have a trade or skill, you’re never going to move up.”

In March 2017, Brittany received information of SER’s Youth Build program through a SER alumna.

“SER and the Youth Build [program] is an amazing,” said Brittany. “They really care a lot about their students…they care about what we are learning and [they] push us to be present and participate in class.”

Transportation challenges aside Brittany was determined and with the help of family members, Brittany persisted and had perfect attendance during Youth Build’s intensive “Mental Toughness” period (a prerequisite to joining YouthBuild Houston).

“If I were to have my own car, I would probably be slacking off right now,” said Brittany. “Having to ask people for a ride is different. When you have someone taking you to work or school, you have to be [appreciative of their time]. Not having a car has helped me stay on track.”

With hard work and perseverance, Brittany and 27 fellow YouthBuild Houston and 8 Million Stories members celebrated earning their GEDs and occupational credentials at SER’s Youth Services graduation in August 2017.

“Once I was in the program, I made a goal for myself…I gave myself until June/July to get my GED, said Brittany. “I got my GED in May…it only took me two weeks.”

With help from SER, Brittany obtained a part-time position with the Houston Food Bank.

“Working at the [Houston Food Bank] was amazing,” said Brittany. “I enjoyed seeing the younger volunteers coming to help out – they could have been doing anything during the summer, but they were spending hours giving back at the food bank.”

After acing the GED in such a short period of time, Brittany started to view her capabilities differently and considered pursuing additional education. She wanted a career. So with the help of her SER career coaches, Brittany enrolled with Industrial Welding Academy with the hopes of launching a welding career.

“I saw a lot of the workers in the refineries who were welders,” said Brittany. “I saw the money they would make and how hard they worked and knew I could do it too.”

“I didn’t want to go to school to become a doctor or a nurse. I liked being outside and working hard rather than sitting at a desk taking orders from someone else. As a welder, you still must take orders, but you are working at your own pace.”

After completing her welding course, Brittany plans on getting established as a welder with the local refineries. She hopes to be able to earn enough to have a good life, including travel and eventually starting a family. With her first-hand knowledge of what the foster system is like, Brittany plans to one day adopt a child of her own.

“My advice to the YouthBuild kids is to just show effort,” said Brittany. “Show that you want to be there…show that you want to better yourself. The instructors/coaches don’t want people there who are forced to be there - show initiative. Show that you are interested in changing your life. If you do this…you don’t have anything to worry about”.