I was born in Chicago and as a young child was adopted into a Puerto Rican family. Growing up, I lived in the Humboldt Park neighborhood – a prominent area for Latinos. There are restaurants and bakeries that cater to our culture, and we celebrated who we are on a regular basis by getting together with family for traditional Puerto Rican meals.
My parents always placed a premium on education. They sacrificed so my brothers and I could have a private school education. I went to a private school in Humboldt Park before going to an all-girls Catholic high school. Eventually I went to the Harrington Institute of Interior Design, but I ended up only going for a semester before some major life changes forced me to drop out. At the time, I was devastated, but it was actually these changes that led me to my current career path.
When I first applied for jobs, I found I couldn’t get one because I didn’t have a good work history. I ended up going to a local nonprofit organization, Westside Health Authority, to get help with securing employment. One of their job coaches took a look at my resume and shared it with the director of the program. He called me the next day and asked me to come in and meet with him. It turns out he had an internal position available for a receptionist. He thought I was an excellent candidate because of my past experience as well as being bilingual.
They offered me the position and within a year I transitioned to being a case manager. The next year, I moved up to an employment specialist position. That’s where my career in workforce development began. I moved up and around for the next 10 years, eventually landing at Goodwill and my position as the Manager of the Workforce Connection Center in Illinois.
The Goodwill mission is personal to me on many levels. Besides having my own challenges when I was first seeking employment, I also have a passion to help individuals with disabilities. My brother had Downs Syndrome and passed away two years ago. Having the opportunity to work with an organization that provides services to people like my brother is so rewarding.
I’m grateful to be in a position where I can help establish community relationships and help people overcome their struggles and find meaningful employment. Being a leader is what drives me the most, and it’s always been my greatest desire to help people reach their true potential. At Goodwill, we are in a position to help people achieve what they want in life.
Looking for ways to grow your career or give back to the community? Learn how you can be part of the transforming power of work at Goodwill.