Per Scholas really changes lives! They give you all the tools to start a career, you just have to put in the work. I am so thankful to be a part of it.
New York, NY
Catherine Acevedo was born in the Dominican Republic and spent much of her childhood there, before moving to New Jersey and then New York.
After graduating high school, she was not sure what route she wanted to take. She was interested in pursuing further education, but was hesitant to commit money to a program before she was sure of her path.
Catherine attended courses in several different areas, including restaurant management, accounting, and business, before withdrawing when she realized that they were not what she wanted to do. She began working in restaurants, which she liked, but she was not entirely happy and knew that she wanted to start a long-term career.
While working as a restaurant event manager, Catherine was exposed to a lot of computer work, which she enjoyed. Her manager, recognizing this interest, suggested that Catherine look into pursuing cybersecurity. He told Catherine about Per Scholas, as several of his friends had graduated from the program and landed great jobs afterwards.
Catherine began researching Per Scholas, before taking a leap and applying. “It sparked a fire in me because it seemed like a really good opportunity that could really change my life,” she recalled. She enrolled in Per Scholas New York’s Cybersecurity course in the spring of 2022.
Because she was new to tech, Catherine found the course to be very challenging at first. She developed a strong bond with her classmates, who would encourage and motivate each other. “We understood that we all wanted to grow and better our lives,” Catherine reflected. “It really gave us a drive, even on the hard days, where we’d see how far we’d come and say ‘why would I turn back now?’”
Catherine also had a great experience with her teachers. “Our [cybersecurity] teacher was great about making sure we understood everything and felt safe,” she said. “He restored our confidence any time we questioned ourselves…Our career development teacher was also great! In life, they don’t really teach you how to conduct yourself in an interview, and he really prepped us and took the time to go over everything. He is always there if we have any questions, even now, and wants to help coach us to our best.”
Catherine had her first job interview within two weeks of graduating from Per Scholas, and she started working the very next month as an Associate Engineer at Nagarro. She will be transferred shortly to the company’s IT team, and is trying to learn as much as possible and build the foundations of her tech career.
Looking forward, Catherine plans to continue learning, take some alumni courses at Per Scholas, and earn as many certifications as she can. “Per Scholas is a real life-changing opportunity, and the fact that it is free – if you can do it, you should,” she said. “I try to convince anyone in my life who I think might benefit from it to attend Per Scholas…I really just want to say to thank you to everyone that keeps Per Scholas going and growing. I really mean it that it changes lives! I was looking into cybersecurity before I found Per Scholas, and I couldn’t afford to pay $17,000 for something that I didn’t even know would work out. Per Scholas gives you all the tools to start a career, you just have to put in the work. I am so thankful to be a part of it.”