Graduation is more than getting a diploma and celebrating with newfound friends. While those things are great, what truly matters is the sense of accomplishment one feels upon completion of a task via diligence.
Such was the case last Friday for the almost 40 graduates of MEDA’s trio of free young adult programs, which are geared to 17- to 24-year-olds—a crucial time to steer clients on the path to success.
The three classes for summer 2014, part of MEDA’s Workforce Development program, included: Mission Techies, where computer-hardware skills are learned; Bilingual Bank Teller, with preparation for entry into the financial world; and the first-ever Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Customer Service program, with undocumented youths learning needed job skills as they are also assisted in their endeavor to win safe haven in the United States.
Because of their challenged backgrounds, the young adults needed a little more guidance than most MEDA clients. Some are recent immigrants, have had trouble studying in the past or never received proper counseling in the home. These challenges make today’s graduation an all the more important achievement.
Exemplifying the spirit of the event was Mission Techie Cristina Jimenez.
MEDA Technology Training Coordinator Leo Sosa expounds on why this young woman stands out: “Cristina is determined to follow a technology career path and she would inspire other underserved Latinas to pursue a tech industry job.”
Inspired was the word of the day on Friday, too. Cristina’s speech, cited below, energized the crowd that filled Valencia Gardens, the venue for the event. Her story is made all the more powerful by the fact that she is part of DACA.
I chose to be in the Mission Techie program because it stood out to me the most. I’ve always known how to use a computer, but never knew what it took to make it work. At first, I struggled to absorb all the information that Francisco, our teacher, was feeding to us, but in time I started to develop a better understanding of the lessons and found that I was finding a passion for the subject that I never knew I could have.
This experience at MEDA has made me realize many things about the work world. Not only has it made me embrace my newfound passion for computers, but also self-empowerment. As a Latina, I need to prove that not only can Latinos be part of the tech workforce, but also women. The amount of women working in tech jobs is few compared to the jobs that are created daily. I want to change that percentage and hope many more follow.
We, the Mission Techies, learned how to work as a team. From Facebook visits to community services, we managed to accomplish many things, such as refurbishing computers and learning how to manage our bank accounts. This program has prepared us for the real tech jobs out there.
I was granted this opportunity at MEDA and even though the program has come to an end, my career path is far from over. Like many others in this program, career paths were opened up for us. For me, that would be TechSF, which I intend to use as a stepladder to Salesforce.
Knowing me, I won’t stop there!”
A huge thanks to the two primary funders of these summer programs: the City of San Francisco’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD); and United Way of the Bay Area’s Matchbridge program, a supporter of Summer Jobs+ initiative.
Congratulations to all of the graduates of MEDA’s Young Adult programs.