“I am 43 years old. I was born in Houston. I've lived here most of my life, in the Spring Branch area.
[After high school] I moved to Colorado and went to college before I was ready. I basically just dropped out of school and worked odd jobs to fund what I really enjoyed, which was skiing and things like that. I shacked up with six people at a time in a small one-bedroom [apartment]. Lived out of my car, did that kind of thing mainly just so I could fund being a ski bum.
I moved back to Houston in 1999. I just floated around, didn't do much. And then, 9/11 happened. That really affected me. I joined the Army and signed up to serve my country.
I was only in for a year. I got injured pretty badly in basic training. It was a really hard situation to deal with. So after that year was up, I came back home. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a real deal. There's no cure for it. You just learn how to deal with it. I hate to say it, but I had a bit of a drug problem - that's how I coped. It just took a long time to get over it.
Around 2007, I got on with a temp agency and they helped me gain a little bit of work experience. I was in the litigation support industry. Most people don't know what that is. Law firms hire companies like the ones I was with to help them collect record evidence for their lawsuits. It's OK work; it's just the pay isn't good. There's no prospects for career advancements. And you're always one case settlement away from losing your job. You're always right on the edge there. It's a really hard industry to make it in.
But once you're in an industry, it's really hard to get out of that, especially in the economic environment we live in. I like the work; it's just not stable. And being married, I needed something more stable in order to be able to contribute and support my family. To have a future and create a better situation for us.
I got laid off in January. My wife actually found the [BankWork$] program online, thank the Lord. And here we are. I did everything I could to succeed in it, and Wells Fargo hired me for a great position as a personal banker. Things are finally looking up. It's been a long, hard road. This is the kind of job I've been trying to get since I graduated from college four years ago. And even before that, if you count my experience in the Army, it's been a really long, long road to get to this point.
Ever since I got out of the Army, you always hear 'thank you for your service' but it doesn't seem like many people really care about what you've been through, or where you're going. It's just lip service that people pay you. You're just a body to put in a seat. But SER, and the people at SER like Jose [Velez, SER BankWork$ Instructor and Coordinator] and Erica [Tirado, SER Workforce Development Lead], they showed me that there are people out there who do care. It matters to them. They want to see people not only succeed, but to be happy. To have a future. And that's what’s been different than anything I've ever experienced. It's just being around people who legitimately care.
My medium goal is to do the best job I can at Wells Fargo, and make sure that they don't regret taking a chance on me. It's to do the best I can and keep on trucking. My long term goal, my house on top of that hill, is to be a wealth management adviser. Or financial adviser. Help people protect their money. That's what my goal is. To get all the certifications and licenses that I need to have that opportunity.
It just seems like everything is just finally coming together again. Things haven't been this complete since I graduated from high school. This is a happy ending to the struggles that I've had in the past 14, 15 years. And now it's just the beginning of a new chapter. And that's what's so beautiful about it, you know?
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my story with you. For giving me this chance with Wells Fargo because it couldn't have happened without you guys. I can't tell you how thankful I am. Thank you very much.”
if you'd like to learn more about the BankWork$ program. Enrollment is currently underway for the next BankWork$ class, which starts on February 2017.