When Yocelin became a mother at the age of 16, her world changed completely. After graduating from high school, her father’s health declined and Yocelin found herself needing to support her family financially. At SER-Jobs for Progress, the out-of-school and out-of-work teen found the guidance and resources she needed to join the workforce and create a brighter future.
“At a dark spot in my life, SER brought light.” -Yocelin, 19
Less than half of teen mothers complete high school. Yocelin beat those odds, determined to stay in school and earn her diploma while dreaming of attending college one day – a goal she wanted not only for herself, but also for her son, Jayden, too. She wanted him to be able to look back on her life and see just how she persisted through challenges to achieve her goals, so he could follow her example.
When Jayden was less than a year old, Yocelin’s plans changed. Her father began experiencing serious health problems, requiring weekly treatments at the hospital. He struggled to keep his repair business running as it was the family’s only source of income, but eventually was forced to close his shop because of his health. The family’s bills quickly piled up, and since Yocelin’s mother had never worked outside the home before, Yocelin knew it was up to her to find work and support the family.
She began looking for a job in her neighborhood to no avail. Then she learned about SER and sought help there.
“When I first saw those big brown doors at SER’s entrance,” Yocelin confessed, “I didn’t know what I would find behind them.”
Yocelin enrolled in SER’s Helping Young People Excel (HYPE) program and quickly gained a placement for paid on-the-job training, interning as a receptionist at SER’s front desk. As her work experience grew, her perspective did too. She learned about other cultures, made friends with older people, and heard their stories.
With the help of SER navigators and coaches, she was guided, encouraged and, “picked up when I fell down,” Yocelin explains gratefully. “At a dark spot in my life, SER brought light.”
As Yocelin grew personally and excelled in her job, she participated in career coaching to set goals for her future. She soon learned about the BankWork$ program – a free, eight-week financial services training course offered by SER – and applied. The rigorous course equips graduates with the hard and soft skills needed to become qualified candidates for in-demand jobs such as bank tellers, customer service representatives and personal bankers. Yocelin enrolled and began learning what she needed to be successful in the financial services industry.
During the section on building a resume, she became excited when her instructor explained that upon completion of this course, she could add “BankWork$ Certification” to her resume. That sounded so great to her, she started thinking, “what can I work on next to put on my resume?” She was even more excited when she successfully completed the course and quickly received job offers from Wells Fargo and another bank.
Yocelin never thought she would be given the great responsibility of handling financial transactions, but now she is employed as a teller for Wells Fargo. Her mother fondly reminds her of a toy she loved to play with as a child: a bright pink Barbie cash register. Turns out Yocelin had dreamed of this opportunity long ago. She beams as she describes her work today, how she strives to make each transaction as efficient as possible for her customers, while leaving each of them with a smile.
In speaking with Yocelin, it’s easy to see her desire to succeed in her job at the bank, her kindness, and what a loving mom she must be. She has come a long way since she first pushed open the big brown SER doors. Today Yocelin is poised and mature beyond her 19 years, but her smile is a mile wide as she shares the incredible impact SER has had on her life, thankful for the opportunities she’s been given, and all the people who have helped her along this journey.