"I'm 29 years old. I grew up in Houston, Texas, on the Northeast side.
I had a bit of a rough childhood. I have a mother who was addicted to drugs. But I had a great father. He was disabled, and he was the best dad I could ask for. So without him, I probably wouldn't be where I am today. I have two sisters and two brothers.
After school I decided I wanted to go to college. I enrolled in [the University of Houston Downtown]. It was due to my dad's passing that I wanted to go to school. I wanted to make him proud, and achieve better for me and my family, me and my kids. Because before my 21st birthday, I already had four kids. My son, my oldest, is twelve. I have a ten year-old daughter, I also have a nine year-old son, and an eight year-old daughter. They're doing really well. They're in karate. My one daughter, she's starting a leadership group at school. My baby boy, he has an intellectual disability, but he's doing really well. Makes straight A's. They're all good, and they mean everything to me.
I worked while I was going to school. I started working in a hospital when I was 18 as a housekeeper. Then I decided to apply for a patient care assistant position. I got the job, and I worked for St. Luke's, Memorial Hermann, Methodist, and Texas Children's for six years. And then my contract ended. It was due to the relationship I was in with my kids' father. He was very abusive. At first it wasn't physical; it was emotional, and mental, but then it became physical. And one night he almost killed me. I made the decision to leave, and I lost everything that day. I lost my job, my vehicle, my place to stay, a lot of my kids' clothes; I lost just about everything in one day. I went to Louisiana.
I came back a few months later in June. And that's when my best friend [now my husband], who I've known since I was twelve, helped me and my kids out, and we came together. I fell in love with him; he's really changed my life.
I've been an advocate for domestic violence for a lot of young ladies for a long time. It's something I love doing, helping people get out of those situations. It's been a long road for me. Four kids, it's not easy. I tried my best to make sure that I take care of them and not do anything stupid or crazy, or hurt my kids in any kind of way.
When I found [the BankWork$ program], I was really depressed. I actually found it on Facebook. In the interview I was all nervous. I hadn't had an interview in a while before that. But I ended up getting in, and I was so happy.
The week before [graduation] I was about to quit the program. I allowed my mom to come back into my life. And she had been doing really well, helping me watch my kids and picking me up on the days that I went to the program. But then she kind of stopped. And I just gave up. So [Jose Velez] calls me and he said 'you need to get back to class. You need to finish this program. We're about to graduate.' And I came back, and he said 'I need you to be the speaker [at graduation]' and I said 'I don't know if I should.' He said 'you have a great story, you need to tell your story.' And I did.
If [Jose Velez] }wouldn't have called me, I wouldn't have gone back. And I'm glad I did. Capital One called me, and the lady offered me any location from a list. She said ‘we really want to hire you.' We found a location that's close to me, and I started working there on November 7th of last year. It's been good.
[My favorite part of the BankWork$ program] was just learning. A lot of people don't like criticism. I first I hated being criticized by anybody, even if it was good or bad. I felt like they were attacking me because I was in a situation for so long where I was criticized every day. But [Jose Velez, SER BankWork$ Instructor, Coordinator, and Job Developer] helped me learn how to take criticism, and not be angry. And [my classmates], they are my second family. We communicate with each other periodically. I actually organized a little reunion tomorrow afternoon.
[My husband and I] went from living in a hotel room, to a one-bedroom apartment and not having much. But we managed. We made due. I don't know how. We just made it. And then from the little one-bedroom, now living in a bigger place and I'm thinking ‘this is all happening so fast.’ It wouldn't have happened if I hadn't gotten in [BankWork$], because I couldn't find a job that worked with a school schedule.
I'm looking forward to getting into the corporate world of banking, and going back to school hopefully at the end of this year so I can attain my goals.
[The BankWork$ experience] is life-changing. Because of Mr. Jose, you know how to react, you know how to handle situations better. Mr. Jose is an awesome teacher. He's very professional. And I wouldn't have made it without him. He was a big part of me finishing and changing my life. I haven't really been able to thank him like I want to thank him. He saved my life, and I don't think he knows that.
I was really in a dark place. I was really depressed. And I didn't know what to do. [The BankWork$ program] was really life-changing. I didn't think I would be in a situation where I could pay my bills. I didn't think it was going to take me this far. So I'm very happy."
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