I came to New York from Guyana when I was 13 years old. I wasn’t too broken up about it. Now and again I did miss home, but I knew I had a lot of opportunities here. In this country you have a chance to make something of yourself.
One problem I had was issues with my brother, Jonathan. He was difficult to deal with. He would destroy my belongings, take my things … I would get mad and we’d have bad fights and disagreements. A few times things turned physical. That’s when I started counseling with Miss Austin in the HALE program. She talked with me, my mother, and sometimes Jonathan. She helped me learn how to handle my concerns without things turning physical and to recognize when to ignore things. She also helped my mom talk to Jonathan and help him understand that it isn’t acceptable to treat your family this way.
When I was 16, I told Miss Austin that I wanted to start working because I wanted some money in my pocket and to start taking care of myself. She told me about JobNet and helped me get started.
I met Samantha, who worked at JobNet, and Ms. Diggs, the program director, and I started working for the program as a receptionist. It was an interesting experience. I learned how to answer the phones, welcome and greet visitors, and take messages. Through Career Club I learned to be professional, to always be there on time, and to follow instructions. I enjoyed working with the people there, and it left me feeling like I had connections—that I could come back any time to show them what I was doing. People at JobNet want to help you make something of yourself. They care about your future. Even though I’m out of the program more than two years, I came back to show them what I’m up to now: becoming a firefighter.
When I first came to this country and was in middle school, I saw the ambulances and the firetruck go by and I had a feeling that was the career I wanted to get into. I did the hard work to get into FDNY Captain Vernon A. Richard High School for Fire and Life Safety and graduated in 2015.
Now I’m studying to become an NYC EMT, and then in a couple of years, I can become an FDNY firefighter.
The road wasn’t easy. The first time I took the test, I got a 68 and needed a 70. But I didn’t give up. I took it two more times, and I finally did it. Now I’ve completed the Winter EMS Academy, and I’m on my way to becoming a firefighter.
Things are better now.I had experiences at JobNet that I really treasure and that shaped me into the person I am supposed to be. I learned how to be responsible when I have a job to do, and that I can do it. And I never would have met these amazing people that I enjoy talking to.
My relationship with my brother is different from how it was back then. We don’t argue as much or get into altercations as much as we did back then. There’s less fights and more talking.
That’s one of the things I learned from Miss Austin and from the people at JobNet: Most things in life require hard work, but once you put in the work, the results you are looking for will happen.