You won’t meet a more driven 21-year-old than Shekinah. In January 2018, she became a Live and Learn client and entered the TOTAL Career Pathway (Training on Technology and LifeSkills). This program is offered by Live and Learn in partnership with YearUp. For 7 months, Shekinah took classes and worked part-time. Then, in August, she began a prestigious internship with Bank of America. She gets up every morning at 5am to catch the bus to her internship, and still works on the weekend to make ends meet. With Live and Learn’s help, she’s getting closer to realizing her dream of a career with a future. 

How did you get involved with the program? 

I grew up in Detroit, Michigan. I had taken a year of general ed at community college. But I needed a fresh start. It was a bad environment, there were a lot of troubles, and when family members screwed up, I’d have to take care of them. 

When I heard about YearUp in Phoenix, I took the chance. My advisor told me about the partnership with Live and Learn, and I didn’t hesitate. I moved away from practically everyone I know because I wanted a chance at a good career. My dream was to start a good career, and my mom could come here with me. We’d finally have a good life. 

What has your experience in the program been like so far? 

“I have struggled with feeling discouraged since my mom died. But right now, I know I just have to finish. I can’t disappoint her memory.” 

I’ve been in the program for eight months, and it is intense! But it is going well, and I really enjoy it. I’m pursuing a career in cyber-security. Especially with Live and Learn, they have been helping me a lot, more than I could have dreamed. The program sort of found me, and I am so happy it did. 

About two weeks into the program, my mom died, unexpectedly. I felt so discouraged, I just wanted to be back in Michigan with my family. But she always told me to get an education, so I’m doing it for her. She was my motivator. I was discouraged for a little bit, just because she’s not here anymore. Now I realize that doesn’t mean I can’t do this for myself. Now, more and more, I’m happy to be doing it for me. 

Would anything be different for you if you were pursuing your degree without Live and Learn’s help? 

If it weren’t for Live and Learn, I wouldn’t have lasted in the YearUp program. Live and Learn has helped me so much with basic things like bus passes and a living stipend. They give me individual attention and they help me with anything I need…that’s what’s made this possible! 

What are your hopes for the future? 

Short term, I hope that my internship will turn into a job. I do worry that I moved all the way out here on my own to do this, to change my life, so what if I don’t succeed in getting a job? But Live and Learn will help me with that once my internship ends. I want a career I really love, not just a job that barely even pays. 

Also, I am going to take some financial literacy workshops with Live and Learn. I know that’s going to be important so I know how to manage my money. 

Long term, I plan to go back to school. Actually, I think about one day owning my own business!