What was your “year up”?
Every successful person has had a "year up." A person who believed in you when others didn't, who opened a door for you so that you could start the next chapter in your life. An opportunity that empowered you to reach your full potential. No matter how independent and self-sufficient we are, we've all had someone who helped us get the chance to make ourselves who we are today.
We encourage you to share the story of your “year up” here, to recognize those who’ve opened doors for you in the past and to illustrate how new doors can be opened for others in the future. In the coming weeks, we’ll add it to an online gallery that will bear witness to the incredible impact of our collective opportunities.
Your Year Up Stories
"For the first time, two teachers believed in me and in my potential."
Diana Smith - Author of three books and Partner at New Profit Inc.
I dropped out of college just after turning 18. I was doing drugs and had nowhere to go; my family was in disarray: my mother an alcoholic, my father had left. A good friend took me in and gave me a place to stay. I quit doing drugs and started helping other kids do the same. My friends and the folks I worked with became my family; they always had my back. The next year I returned to college, where for the first time, two teachers believed in me and in my potential. From then on in, it's been "Life Up." What I now realize: There are no self-made men or women; only people who forget who helped them along the way.
"Any one who thinks that they can't do it, they just need to look at me and see that it can be done."
Lisa Bailey - Director and Owner of a private school
My year up was when a very dear friend of mine, who is no longer with us, told me that any one who thinks that they can't do it, they just need to look at me and see that it can be done and you can do it. I was a single mom with two beautiful boys, I put myself through college, got my degree in teaching and have owned a private school for the past 14 years.
"There was Marko Jovanovich who gave me a huge project when my confidence was shot."
Tynesia Boyea-Robinson - CEO, Reliance Methods
My work as founding Executive Director of Year Up NCR is shared in the book, and it talks about my year up, Deborah Dean-Nelson. But I had so many more “year ups”. There was Marko Jovanovich who gave me a huge project when my confidence was shot, Clifton Anderson who politely corrected me when I asked what type of soup was "soup du jour", Martin Wood who believed that I could run a Mexican mortgage bank acquisition when I had absolutely no experience doing anything of the kind. The list is endless and the impact is immeasurable. Without them, I could have been another statistic. Another person with potential unrealized. It is why I believe so strongly in creating environments where people thrive and connecting people to opportunity, no matter where they’ve started out or ended up. Providing and receiving “year ups” and redefining who and where talent is will be exactly what our country needs to reclaim our legacy as the Land of Opportunity.
"Year Up empowered me with the confidence and business skills, that were always there."
Shamir Jones - Marketing Producer, Grand Circle Corporation
When I joined the Year Up family, nine years ago in 2003, fresh out of high school, I would have never imagined the doors this organization would open; and continue to open for me. Year Up paved the way for my career, and not just college credits, but my entire college degree.
I have had ups, and I have had many downs, but Year Up empowered me with the confidence and business skills, that were always there; but needed a helping hand to be realized.
I will always support, and owe a great deal of gratitude to Gerald Chertavian and Year Up for believing in the POWER and POTENTIAL of urban youth.
"I am grateful for everyone who trusted in me to accomplish the tasks that were given to me."
Jihye Lee - Operations Manager, Year Up Chicago
My "year up" was Year Up. Just as our organization is invested in our young adults, my team and staff of Year Up New York and Chicago were invested in me and have tremendously added to my growth. I was given opportunities that propelled my professional career. I was given the necessary direction and feedback to empower me to reach my full potential. I am grateful for everyone who trusted in me to accomplish the tasks that were given to me.
"My teacher pulled me aside one day and asked if I was interested in working part time as a programmer."
Laurence Chen - Instructor, Year Up; photographer & writer
In high school, these new things called TRS-80s and Apple IIe's were starting to show up in small numbers. This skill called programming was bandied about as a worthwhile thing to learn, although at the time all I knew was that it was fun making the computer do simple things based on this programming stuff.
Then my teacher pulled me aside one day and asked if I was interested in working part time as a programmer for a small business. Of course I had no idea what this was about, only that it would probably look a lot better on my resume than scooping ice cream at 31 Flavors. An interview and a couple letters of recommendation from instructors later and I was programming dBase databases and writing computer generated reports.
That job changed my mind and my life in ways I can't even begin to count. Attention to detail, language syntax, comptational logic, etc. etc. Thanks, John Cofano, for my Year Up.
"Right off the bat I learned so much in technology and networking and communication skills."
Terrill West - Taking care of my family
Allow me to introduce myself: my name is Terrill West. My Year Up experience was amazing! So many cultures coming together as one working to better their lives. When I first heard about it I was working at a place that was paying me little. I was always struggling just to make it by. I heard about Year Up through word of mouth so I checked it out saw that they pay you while you go to there school, even though that wasn't the message that they were portraying to the public - what they were saying was come in and join us and we will teach you the skills that will help better yourself in the corporate world. So I applied and right off the bat I learned so much in technology and networking and communication skills. Not only was I learning all that stuff I was gaining a experience of a lifetime and I got to know a community of people that became my friends. When I went to my internship I felt that Year Up gave me a foundation to tackle anything. Year up for life!