Wed, Jun 19, 2019

Discovery A World Over

In 2016, the country of Cameroon erupted with a series of protests that led the country into a civil war. Tensions escalated, as did the death toll as a result of mounting conflict. Thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean in Boston, Massachusetts, Justice Abinyui Muh, a Global Health Corps fellow conducting research abroad at the time, bore witness to his home country’s civil uprising from a distance.

Justice was about to become one of the millions of refugees from across the globe who have been displaced due to crisis and conflict, and would have to begin the daunting task of rebuilding his life and career.

Prior to completing his fellowship, Justice worked at the Limbe Regional Hospital in Southwest Cameroon to implement a software to manage HIV data. “For many patients that I met in this hospital, it was their suffering from the disease that they were most aware of — they wanted to be healed by any means possible,” he wrote in a 2017 Medium blog post.

As political tensions grew in Cameroon, Justice worried for his family, friends, and the nation overall, and weighed his options returning home. He was an activist back in Cameroon, however, during this time, the government sought out all activists who spoke out against their policies. Although his fellowship supported him for a year, his visa was not enough to support his stay in the states beyond the tenure of his fellowship. With all that remained behind, separated by an ocean, Justice applied for asylum and sought refuge in the United States.

Efforts to fully ground himself proved challenging. After his fellowship, Justice moved to Washington, D.C. and stayed with a friend, spending his days researching jobs in the information technology sector. Even with a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, and a Bachelor’s of Engineering in Information Technology, Justice struggled to secure a job, especially one that matched his technical experience and interests. Likening his job search to that of a “full-time job,” his savings was slowly shrinking and his approaches to finding work and starting a new life in America were proving fruitless.

“What was wrong? What am I doing in this country? How do I get a job, and what happens if I spend this money and run out of it?” Justice became greatly frustrated, not expecting his work history experiences and advanced education to be so hard to apply to prospective work opportunities.

Fueled by his frustration, Justice researched online how other immigrants might have experienced difficulty integrating into the United States and discovered Upwardly Global—a national nonprofit that helps newcomers integrate into the professional workforce. He enrolled in their courses and realized how truly different was the job market in the United States.

“I knew I needed a coach, assistance with getting a job. I learned how to present myself differently to hiring managers,” Justice reflects, learning to distinguish himself not just as someone who needed a job but as a fully competent individual with the skills and experience to do the work successfully. “Upwardly Global was an organization that bridged the gap with applying to jobs and improving my communications with recruiters.” An encouraging meeting with Bethany, his career coach at Upwardly Global who remained confident in his career prospects, proposed that Justice apply to Per Scholas to seek further specialized technical training.

Reading up on the many student success stories from Per Scholas alumni, Justice decided to enroll at Platform by Per Scholas in Dallas, Texas. He moved to Texas in January 2018 and started classes that March.

During his first week at Per Scholas, Justice was still concerned about his prospects finding a job once he completed his training. As his technical background lent well to his ability to navigate the coursework comfortably, Justice tried to focus more on establishing a strong network of friends and colleagues. He made himself available to his other classmates, helping them to understand the coursework. He even collaborated with them from time to time on how to apply for jobs once they graduated, thinking through how to review and complete applications and how to network effectively. What was most important, for both Justice and his peers, was to know that they were not alone, and that they could support one another through this process.

When Justice graduated from Per Scholas, he once again applied for jobs. This time, with an industry recognized certification in tow, combined with his newly found confidence, Justice walked into interviews and presented his best self. The calls came in, as did the offers. After what felt like a long journey, Justice was hired at a leading global professional service company. Finally, he had a job, and not just a job, but an opportunity to launch a career in his field with a Fortune 500 company.

Though he finally found employment, when asked what was next, Justice, always forward thinking, replied that he would focus on being the best he could be where he is at now, often times creating and setting work learning plans to educate himself further in the areas of quality assurance and engineering. Unfortunately, the war in Cameroon is still ongoing, and contact with his family remains nonexistent to this day. Justice might not have assumed that he would discover his best self a world over, but he chose to discover himself where he is at now, and that alone is a process of which to be proud.

Student Profiles