Grad Chrystal Banks blows everyone away at the Beta Bash 1.0 with opening remarks

Per Scholas National Capital Region graduate Chrystal Banks opened up the Beta Bash 1.0 with a speech about her journey into technology through Per Scholas.

See a copy of her remarks below.


It is such an honor to be kicking off the first-ever Beta Bash event in support of Per Scholas.

My name is Chrystal Banks and I am a Per Scholas graduate.

Can all my fellow tech nerds make some noise?!

I am incredibly passionate about technology and I don’t even know where to begin to express what Per Scholas means to me.

I grew up here in the DMV. As a kid, I was really close to my dad. Anything he was doing, I wanted to do. He was always fixing every electronic device that existed. Computer systems, gaming systems, sound systems, you name it. We weren’t rich but somehow managed to always have the latest technology!

It was the 90s. New technology was hot.

My first computer had a Windows ‘95 OS and I will never forget it.

This is how I first started to learn technology. I would hook things up with my dad. Everything he did I was right there with him.

He would be really proud of me.

When I went to college, it wasn’t obvious for me to study technology. I was 18, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life yet. So I studied sociology because it interested me, but I had no idea what I was going to do with a degree in Sociology.

After my freshman year on campus I hit a few rough patches and had to take some time off.

I’d work retail, places like Starbucks, H&M. … Jobs just to fulfill my immediate needs.

But I knew I could do better for myself. This was a very discouraging time for me and I know some of you can relate.

After some years off, I went back to school focused and ready to plan for the rest of my life. I was a junior college … when I had my beautiful son Eli.

Being a new mother, full-time student, and working to pay the bills became too much. I once again had to stop my classes.

During this time I shared a small apartment with my mother, three siblings, and my son. My room was a very tiny den.

It was a really rough time. And I had no idea how to get past it. Lost and depressed doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt.

I was attending an information session for jobs with the Census Bureau when someone came in to talk about a different opportunity.

A training that would teach me technology skills, provide me IT certifications, and help me launch a career in tech —- And it was FREE.

I think I might have asked the guy a hundred questions.

The program was Per Scholas. I will never forget this day.

You ask the world to give you signs … and this was my sign.

My dad passed away a few years before —- and I just knew … I just felt this had to be his sign. And I knew that this was my opportunity. Nothing was going to stop me.

I’ve never been so motivated, I applied the same day!

The day I got accepted to Per Scholas was one of the best days of my life. The life I wanted to create for myself and my son.

I am sure you can hear the passion in my voice and that passion was met by everyone at Per Scholas. My fellow classmates. My instructor. The entire staff.

Everyone was there learning from the beginning together and we supported one another along the way.

Once we graduated and we all began to interview for jobs, I’d get a text from everyone wishing me luck. Even Bridgette would send me notes of encouragement.

With every discouraging moment, there was a community to keep me lifted up.

It wasn’t long after I graduated that I landed my first job in tech at Strayer University as a tier 1 Help Desk technician. From there I have gone on to work for ICMA-RC’s Help Desk.

I’m great at my job! I take pride in what I do.

Coming in with the basic skills Per Scholas gave me, it’s up to me to take the initiative to build on that, and I’ve done that. I ask questions. Beyond tier 1, I want to know everything.

And I am so happy and blessed that I get to continue learning. ON MONDAY I will begin a course at General Assembly to become a web developer —- and I got a full scholarship.

Sometimes I can’t believe it.

I’ve been doing the pre-work for the course and I’m knocking it out of the park!

When I get home from work, my fingers are itching to get to programming. I love every minute of learning to use Github, ruby rails, terminal… I cannot wait until my first day!

In tech —- and in life —- you have to constantly grow. The moment you stay still is the moment you stop your success.

I am my son’s role model. I want to provide him a great education and a better life. He is so smart, and I want to nurture that.

He’s only been here for two years and we spent most of that time living in a den with no windows and no door. I know he won’t remember that, and I don’t want him to. I want him to have a normal childhood, carefree and not grow up worrying about having food on the table.

I want to avoid that struggle at all cost —- and I am closer and closer to that point and have never been so confident.

Per Scholas really changes lives.

I cannot emphasize that point enough.

I am smart. I am extremely hard working. I just didn’t know where to go or what to do to begin and put my potential in action. My situation is not unusual. There are so many like me and we just need that door opened —- and we are ready to sprint through it.

I found Per Scholas and I am flying.

Your being here is so powerful. Your being here matters. It creates opportunity. It changes lives.

It is such a honor to be here tonight. I get the honor of acknowledging those of you who helped to make my opportunities possible. Accenture and Symantec, our presenting sponsors tonight. Thank you! Also supporting tonight are Capital One, Catholic Charities, DNS, Iron Bow and Magview. We so appreciate your collaboration.

I also want to recognize the Per Scholas board and host committee who helped make tonight possible. Thank you.

What I go on to achieve will be in part because you believed in me. And I cannot say thank you enough.

Thank you all and thank you Per Scholas!

Chrystal with son Eli

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