A 22 year-old single mother, Diana Velasquez suddenly found herself not only unemployed, but deprived of a crucial asset pretty much everyone needs when trying to find a job.
Diana had been employed in the oil and gas sector, but once the price of oil dropped, she was laid off. “I was going through depression,” she writes.
But that was only one of the significant hurdles she had to face.
“I was feeling lost and thought less of myself because I was not able to use my high school diploma that I received years ago.” Diana had stopped attending high school after the 9th grade, and thought the Marque Learning Center, an institution charged with fraud
by the Texas Attorney General in December of 2014, would help her obtain her high school diploma. Diana admits choosing that particular institution “was the easy way out and it just slowed down my process.” Naturally, finding a job without a valid high school diploma proved difficult.
Fortunately, Diana was referred to SER by her mother. “I was trying to [get my GED] on my own, but I was not able to study by myself,” she writes.
At SER, Diana worked with Alejandra Quiroga, HYPE Career Coach. “[Diana] knew for sure she needed her GED,” she says. “So we decided to opt for that, and also to get some work experience. She attended the GED classes for about 3 weeks, and she started taking the tests. One after the other she passed them with flying colors.”
“She continued to gain work experience after she had completed the GED,” Alejandra says. “She assisted Nory [Angel, SER CEO], Vanessa [Ramirez, SER Director of Youth Impact Services] and Guadalupe [Ruiz, SER HR Specialist].”
In this role, Diana was partaking in a wide variety of activities: “I was going to meetings, lunches, preparing for meetings, making calls, flight reservations, and reservations for Nory. Booklets, also. It was great! The atmosphere [at SER] is incredible. I was surrounded with staff members who were always helping and guiding me the whole time. I loved it! I love that SER is always there to help people that are in need. I truly felt like I was part of the team there and it was great. I learned so much from everyone. An experience that I will never forget.”
Diana was then referred by SER to El Centro de Corazón
for a different kind of work experience. She explains: “I was shadowing an OBGYN Doctor and other days I was helping the staff with paperwork, phone calls, scanning, and helping them with organizing their offices. I love the medical field. Helping people is what I love to do.”
Recently, Diana was offered a position at a company that provides home attendant services. “They help people with disabilities find who will watch over them. I will be doing payroll.”
“One of the things about Diana is that she's persistent,” Alejandra says. And the driving force behind Diana’s resolve is quite obvious. “My son is what motivates me to be where I want to be,” writes Diana. “I don't want him to struggle like I did. I want to set a good example for him.”
With her GED in order, and now a job, Diana can dare to look at the future. “My next step is getting into college, which I am in the process of finding out if I got approved for financial aid,” she writes.
“I want to say that [SER] really uplifted my spirit. Everyone there helped me get through with all the positive feedback I would get. I felt like someone that actually mattered for the first time. Now I know that I can do whatever I set my mind to.”
HYPE is a program funded by Workforce Solutions. To learn more about qualifying for this program, contact Alejandra Quiroga at 713-773-6000, extension 126. Information sessions for all SER programs are held every Tuesday at 1:30 pm at 201 Broadway Street, Houston, Texas 77012.