Cincinnati Graduate Dreams of Opening a Youth Tech Café

Deris Pennington is a family man. As the oldest of his three kids starts to look ahead to his high school graduation, Deris is thinking a lot about the example he sets for his children. They know him as a bit of an egg-head, a Jeopardy fan who knows something about everything, a responsible dad who is always up for helping with homework, and a stalwart coach whose enthusiasm and energy has guided their basketball teams since they were little.

Deris finished second in his class in high school, but family obligations prevented him from completing his degree in a joint program at North Carolina Central University and Georgia Tech. “I was looking for an opportunity to show my kids a level of commitment. I wanted them to see me work toward a new goal and finish something” says Deris, as he considers the motivations that led him to take the IT Support course at Per Scholas in Cincinnati. “Getting my A+ certification while also taking an entrepreneurship course at Xavier University was a lot of work. I was studying side-by-side with my kids, and it was important for them to see that I had an idea, a vision of what I wanted, and that I was seeing it through.”

Deris had spent years in jobs that he calls “tech adjacent”. Working as a project coordinator at a community health center, he led an effort to modernize the way that patient data collection helped to deliver care, and he convinced the health center to bring in social workers to help overlooked populations access services. Later, in the mobile telecommunications field, Deris managed 36 service desk representatives at a company that handles bulk wireless accounts for corporate clients. Still, as Deris looked to save enough for his family’s future, he felt that earning a certification was the missing rung on the ladder to reaching the next level in the tech field. When he found himself back on the job market, a Per Scholas flyer at a job fair helped him to see a path forward.

“Juggling class every day with my family life was definitely a challenge.” Says Deris. “At my age, my personal CPU already has so much going on, between the kids doing sports, my youngest daughter taking ballet, and juggling all of their schedules with my wife. I had to be driven to get through Per Scholas.” Deris was up to the challenge. He was voted class president and finished his IT Support course as valedictorian, which he couldn’t have achieved without the support of his wife, Patrice.

After graduation, Deris found a job as a contractor with  TEKSystems, a Per Scholas Signature Partner, working on an Internet Security team for an insurance group. It’s challenging work, and he says that the knowledge he gained at Per Scholas is helping him to expand his role on the team. He also has his sights set on the future. Deris is making plans to open a “Youth Tech Café”.

“I think of it as a place where kids can start to learn technology skills before they are old enough to come to Per Scholas. It’s not just a simulator where kids can fix computers, it’s also a place where they can do their homework, hang out after school, and have access to technology.”

Deris thinks of the Youth Tech Café as an extension of his years of coaching experience, and his role as a father. As a coach and a dad, he has always had the leadership skills and smarts to inspire kids at home and on the basketball court. Now he has the tech knowledge he needs to teach kids about new pathways for building futures of their own.

Deris Pennington delivering his Valedictorian Address at Per Scholas Graduation. Seated from left to right: Wayne Ivy, Paul Cashen, Aaron Mingo, Dave Lapham, and Mary Beth Molloy.

Per Scholas Profile: Alumnus Sione Joseph Rediscovers Her Creativity

Sione Joseph is an artist. As a painter and sculptor, she once imagined a career in graphic design, and studied for two years at Dillard University in her home city of New Orleans. After the death of her dad, she left school and went to work. Working just to get by left her without the time or energy to pursue her creative passions, and without the means to afford art supplies.

“I’ve always been somebody who wants to create, to make things, to make things happen, to leave some version of myself behind on Earth after I’m not here anymore,” Sione says. “Having to put my art on hold to pay the bills was frustrating.”

At 25 years old, Sione has had a lot of jobs. She has taught pre-k. She has been a cook in a restaurant in New Orleans. She even worked for a time as a financial advisor. She has taken any job she could get to stay afloat. “Not everyone has the luxury to chase a career. I grew up really poor,” she says. “I would have worked any job to avoid going back to that.” Still, despite her diligence, she has experienced eviction and homelessness due to low wages. “I had a job, and I was doing everything that I was taught was right.”

She moved in with her sister in Arlington, Texas, and went to work for the State’s Housing and Human Services Department. She saw the job as a dead-end with no opportunity to advance, no potential to build a career, and once again, no time for her artwork.

Artwork by Sione Joseph

She had learned to love computers during her time at Dillard University, and had grown comfortable with technology through her graphic design classes. “I found Per Scholas while I was looking for jobs in technology. I didn’t think I would get in, because I didn’t have the experience, and most of what I knew about computers, I had taught myself.” She was surprised and excited to be accepted. The IT Support class at Per Scholas requires no prior experience, only resilience and a determination to learn. Sione embodied those attributes, and threw everything she had into her Per Scholas experience.

Sione worked nights as a concierge while going to Per Scholas during the day. Money was tight, but the staff at Per Scholas was supportive. “They helped me to get free city bus passes, and they were always asking if I needed anything,” she says. ”They were encouraging too. They would say ‘I know things are hard, but just push through. We believe in you.’”

Sione reflects on the strength of the bonds she forged with her classmates at Per Scholas: “We were all in such high stakes situations of our own, and while that would drive some people apart, it pulled us together.” Tragically, during the week of her final exam, a close friend of Sione’s died unexpectedly. Her Per Scholas family helped her through the loss. “It pushed me to do better, to have something to live for and to strive for. Everyone wanted to comfort me and pray with me. They’re honestly more like brothers and sisters to me now.”

With graduation approaching, wages from Sione’s job as a concierge were falling short of her expenses, and she felt that she was racing against the clock to find a job that would sustain her. Impressively, she got an interview at the second company that she applied to, and it wasn’t long until she had a job offer. Less than a week after she graduated from Per Scholas, Sione started a new job making more than $21 per hour.

“Working in Desktop Support is amazing. Being around people who love their job is amazing. Being at a company that cares if you like where you work is a major cultural shift. Everyone is in a creative get-up-and-go mode. It’s not a creaky old dinosaur.”

What makes Sione happiest is that she now has the time, energy, and means to pursue her artwork in her free time. She is painting and sculpting again for the first time in two years. She also enjoys refurbishing old furniture with her mom. “Now that that I have the time, and I’m in a position that I have excess money, it’s weird actually,” says Sione, reflecting on her newfound means. “A lot of people think that a job is a job, and a career is a career. But it isn’t separate from your personal life. Working a job that you hate drains you. Now when I go home, I still have energy left to create. That’s the greatest blessing that has come out of this–being able to get my creativity back.”

Sione can once again afford art supplies, thanks to her new career

Three IT Support Students Answer What Brought Them to Per Scholas to #LearnTech

When you take a look inside a classroom at Per Scholas, no two students look the same. Take a deeper look and you will discover that our students educational and professional backgrounds are just as diverse. For some, technology is a hobby that they wanted to turn into a career. For others, technology is an industry they have always hoped to explore. Each and every student took a different path in life that led them to Per Scholas. We asked three IT Support students:

“What brought you to Per Scholas to #LearnTech?”

Daquan Dennison, 19

“Before Per Scholas, I was in a sales associate position at Uniqlo. My mom came to my room one time and showed me a list of programs that were free for me to do. One of those programs was Per Scholas. I decided why not since I love technology.” Daquan’s parents have always been involved in technology which led him to become fascinated with it as well. Daquan started his tech education with the IT Support class to obtain two certifications, A+ and Network+. He knows that acquiring both will make him more marketable to employers. Although Daquan has to commute from Brooklyn to Bronx to study at Per Scholas, he is determined to learn tech so that one day he can become a video game developer.

Maggy Ureña, 30

“I learned about Per Scholas, actually, at my last job. I was linking some members to your tax program. I found out what you guys do and was like, ‘Oh my gosh. That’s right in my neighborhood.’” Everyone is somewhat tech savvy these days, but Maggy knew how to setup internet, printers, and troubleshoot before coming to Per Scholas. However, days of work would be lost if the internet went down. As the go-to person in the office for technical issues, Maggy wanted to be able to help coworkers more and was motivated to study technology. Maggy says the professional development at Per Scholas set a serious tone that made the class aware of what is expected of them in the workforce. IT Support was suggested to Maggy as a great foundation for the tech sector. Next up, Maggy hopes to go into cloud computing or train at the Cognizant Bronx Training Center with Platform by Per Scholas.

Enrique Cruz, 28

“I used to work at a book publishing company and my position unfortunately got outsourced. I had to start making decisions about my future. So, instead of getting a new job, I decided to come to Per Scholas to further my career.” Enrique has been a gamer most of his life and used to repair gaming consoles when he was younger. He always wanted to learn more about technology and has done just that. Enrique looked into other programs at Per Scholas, but says CodeBridge and Cyber Security did not seem like courses you could just jump into without any tech knowledge. He ultimately chose IT Support to get his foot in the door of the tech sector. Enrique hopes to start working right away after dedicating so much time to the program. He says he definitely plans to study cyber security in the future and would prefer it be with Per Scholas.

In July 2017, Per Scholas enrolled its 7,000th student. Whether it be a referral or a curious mind that leads to our website, something continues to bring individuals that are eager to begin a career in technology through our doors. Per Scholas would not be as successful as it is today without our talented, motivated students who come to class every day ready to learn tech.

Per Scholas featured in CNN Money. Job Training program “helping people move forward in life” – Ambassador Sade Strachan

Last month, Per Scholas was recognized nationally by CNN Money for building a proven workforce model that is creating pathways to career success in technology for individuals across the country. To date, we have enrolled 7,000 students.

At Per Scholas we have a firm belief that our students do not need anyone to save them. Instead, we believe in their success and offer the tools and support for them to succeed. Per Scholas Ambassador, Sade Strachan, is the perfect example of a New Yorker who worked tirelessly through her IT Support class to receive industry recognized certifications and find a job as an ATM Service Technician.

Sadé’s journey is not unique, but it is remarkable. At Per Scholas, our students are creative and determined. They are the next generation of the Information Technology workforce in America. They bring their passion and intelligence and we put them on onramps to careers in technology.

This is not just a job—this is a springboard for success. Our training impacts our students, their children, their parents, neighborhoods, the companies where they work, our entire country.

The zip code where you were born should not determine your success.

In 2016, Per Scholas was recognized by the White House for demonstrating strong evidence of impact. This year, budget proposals cut federal funding for workforce training by 40% in key areas.

Per Scholas will continue to carry forward our mission to build onramps to success. A good job changes everything – help us change the face of technology.

​“I wasn’t happy with what I was doing with my life. Per Scholas gave me the knowledge and tools I needed to change my path.” Ambitious graduate Courtney acts on his passion for technology and launches career in Atlanta.

Photo Credit: Charles Mowatt

Courtney has traveled many different paths in his lifetime. Over the course of his life, Courtney has been a member of the United States Air Force, a music producer, a security guard, and a web developer. Courtney realized the common thread running through the work he loves is when the work combines the ability to help others solve their problems and helping people get access to the information they need. Courtney realized that a career in IT would give him the ability to exercise his gifts in these areas and also help him to create a better future for himself and his family.

Courtney grew up in Opelika, a small town in Alabama. He grew up with a strong desire to explore the world beyond the borders of his small town. “I have always been a heavy reader. I have always been a fan of information and learning.” Despite having the potential to do better, Courtney did not perform well enough in high school to secure a college scholarship. He faced a real dilemma as to what to do with his life after his K-12 education.

Courtney would find the answer to his question after taking the ASVAB and receiving a visit from an Air Force recruiter. “He convinced me that the best choice I could make for myself was to join the USAF and take advantage of all the opportunities it would open up to me. He was right.

“Joining the Air Force was one of the best life choices I ever made.” The Air Force gave him an opportunity to travel and indulge his youthful dream of becoming a music producer. It was also his introduction to the Internet. “A close friend of mine lived with his aunt. She was a computer programmer and she had an account with America Online. That was the very first place that I ever saw an online forum. It was intriguing to be able to have a conversation with someone clear across the country over a computer.”

Courtney catalogued this experience, but his desire to enter technology was secondary to his dreams of making it in the music industry. He would spend many years mastering the art of music recording and production. Nevertheless, technology always played a role in his musical voyage. “I was always the go-to person when people were looking to set up equipment and my desire to try and magnify my opportunities within the music industry is what led me to becoming a self-taught web developer.”

Courtney purchased a couple of web development books from Barnes and Noble and began teaching himself to code. He began to entertain the notion of being a freelance web developer and started soliciting clients from Craigslist. “The main thing I learned from this period was that I really liked helping people solve their problems, be it marketing or maximizing their workflow. Technology provided a great tool to provide these services and customize them in the ways my clients required.”

Courtney was working full-time at a luxury hotel, but would spend all of his time after work, and during days off, working on freelance web projects for his clients and himself. “I didn’t make very much money and I realized, eventually, that I wasn’t very good at the business side of being a freelancer. However, this period planted a seed and I knew that I wanted a career dealing with technology.”

Eventually, Courtney, and a close friend, took a chance and opened their own music studio. He also began to correspond online with Cicely Smith, the woman who would eventually become his wife.

“The music studio gave me the opportunity to converge a lot of interests,” he shared. As a business owner, he had to do everything himself, from setting up the website, the hardware, software, wireless networking, accounting, marketing, and more.

Courtney was doing what he loved. “It was a laboratory and I learned a lot.” What he didn’t realize, he says, was how difficult it would to be an entrepreneur in the collapsing music industry. Eventually, he would have to step away from the studio and direct his focus towards helping his fiancée and son adjust to life in Atlanta. “They had moved from out of state to be with me and she also has narcolepsy. There was an extended period where I was needed to help everyone make Atlanta a home.”

In the midst of working security fulltime and part-time hustles, he continued to try and get his first IT certification by self-studying, but was unable to focus enough on his own to do it.

Later on, his family experienced a serious change in finances requiring him to make a serious life change to increase the family’s income.

It was at this juncture that his wife found an ad for Per Scholas, a technology school offering tuition-free certification and professional development training. Courtney immediately realized what he’d been looking for all long. “What I realized was that I was dabbling in IT for years before deciding to get my certification. Everything I was doing was related to technology.”

He describes the IT field as offering an abundance of opportunity, upward mobility, and lucrative job prospects. “This was an opportunity for me to start something and to finish something. I knew I wanted to get into IT and I knew Per Scholas was a gateway to that goal,” he said.

Never giving less than 100%, Courtney immediately applied to the training and even created a PowerPoint presentation to show the Per Scholas admissions team why he was a perfect fit.

He was accepted to the first Per Scholas class in Atlanta, GA.

He describes the eight weeks of training as a very challenging, but one of the most invigorating moments in his life. Because the Per Scholas training was full-time and Courtney couldn’t give up his full-time job, he simply decided to do both. He would load up on caffeine during the last hour of his overnight shift and head to the 9am training for the next 8 hours. After class, he would head back to his job and sleep in his car until it was close to time to clock in and begin his overnight shift. He would study by placing all of his study cards on Quizlet and taking every opportunity to study when he could. When he finally had a day off, he slept.

Courtney graduated with his CompTIA A+ certification, a new skill set, and a whole lot of confidence. “During the eight weeks, it was go-go-go. It emboldened me, it made me feel great. I felt that I could do whatever I put my mind to.”

Once he had graduated, Courtney put the same energy into finding a job. He says it was really tough finding that first entry level position because many businesses refuse to take a chance on someone without a tech background.

Finally, two months after graduation, his search paid off. He was hired at an IT Services company with a specialty in law firms working with law firms, where he worked on the help desk. Now, Courtney has also returned to self-study. He is working on becoming a software engineer to further push his IT capabilities and secure a strong future for himself and his family

What’s ahead for Courtney? He sees himself as a leader in the field. He wants to find ways to help other people of color get into the tech field.

Courtney also spends a lot of his time giving back to Per Scholas. He visits the Atlanta training center and speaks to current classes.

Ultimately, Courtney is excited with where his skills can take him and feels that the best still lies ahead.

Check out past Monthly Impact Reports here.

“This job has the potential to take me somewhere” – Per Scholas Ambassador Marc moves from Stockroom to Service Desk Engineer: Monthly Impact Report – Mar. 2017

Born and raised in New York City, Marc attended college in New Haven, Connecticut, and started pursuing a pre-­med degree. However, all wasn’t smooth sailing for Marc. After two years, he couldn’t afford the pricey $40,000 annual tuition; even with student loans, Marc was forced to drop out.

To make ends meet, Marc took a job at MAC Cosmetics, but the position failed to provide any upward mobility. “Furthering my career really matters to me,” shared Marc. Needing a change, Marc started thinking of his knack for technology, often pegged by family members to fix their computers and cell phones. “I have always been IT savvy, but there was no set path into IT in front of me,” he told us. “My friend said to me, ‘Certifications are the key to getting a foot in the door of the tech industry.’”

He immediately started his search for any training programs specifically focused on certifications and came across Per Scholas. “I thought to myself, this is probably too good to be true. There is no way this is free. They are definitely going to want some of my paycheck after.”

He was, of course, proven wrong. He went through the lengthy admissions process which includes an adult education test and multiple interviews with National Capital Region staff. “Once I met the staff, I was really hoping I got in.” 

Marc was accepted. He told us, “I’ve always done things on my computer, but I wasn’t prepared. The course was pretty difficult…I thought it was going to be easier. Time and attendance is critical. I left my house 2 hours early just to make sure that I got there on time, and I only live 30 minutes away.”

Once he adjusted to the heavy workload and hours, Marc found his stride. He says that the Career Development portion of the course was really helpful to his confidence and composure, specifically the resume critique, LinkedIn coaching, and public speaking coaching. “I hate interviews and public speaking, but [Director of Business Solutions and Career Services] Peyton really helped walked us through what to do.”

The final hurdle in the journey was passing exams and finding a job. Marc shared, “I was confident that I would pass, but at the same time I had lingering doubt. It’s scary because you study so hard for the test.” Fortunately, he passed both the 801 and 802 tests the first time, earning his A+ certification. He says, “I was ecstatic. I thought, ‘YES FINALLY!’”

As graduation approached, Marc started putting his career development training to the test by setting up interviews with many different technology companies. “I wanted to work somewhere where I felt at home,” he said. Three weeks after graduation and four interviews later, Marc was hired at Design Data, an IT consulting firm. “This job has the potential to take me somewhere,” Marc said.

Looking back, if Marc hadn’t found Per Scholas, he would still be in the stockroom at MAC Cosmetics with little chance of a lucrative career. In the future, he hopes to build a life in the NCR with his girlfriend Ashley, who supported him throughout the Per Scholas journey. He also wants to learn more about technology by experiencing a variety of different aspects of the industry. He shared, “I like that in IT, you can never stop learning. There is so much to learn. Everything I do, I am thinking about IT. It keeps you on your toes.”

Check out past Monthly Impact Reports here.

Student Spotlight: Per Scholas Atlanta Alum Aquila

Aquila Jimenez, a graduate of Per Scholas Atlanta’s IT Support training course, is about to finish her first month as an IT Product Analyst at Worldpay. She is a member of the Solutions Engineering team, responsible for analyzing, designing and developing Worldpay’s systems software.  Her most recent project involved geolocating customer inquiries that will help the Solutions team analyze and understand patterns of support. Aquila goes by AJ and six months ago she said, “I didn’t even know a motherboard was inside a computer.”

AJ, along with many Per Scholas graduates, is a problem solver with a curious mind. Nancy Cox, Senior Vice President for Solutions Engineering at Worldpay remembers their first meeting when AJ shared, “I don’t let things stop me. I dig in until I find it.” For Nancy, and other Worldpay staff who are committed to hiring the best tech talent to suit their business needs, this was an immediate indicator that AJ was perfect for the Worldpay team.

From Nancy’s perspective, “As an employer, what I see are college graduates and participants in other programs who aren’t quite ready to work. When a company brings young talent into the organization, they become a project, because there are so few internal corporate training programs that close the training gaps. We are all wrestling with the tech hire initiative problem, wanting to be able to support people entering the technology workforce where we have many open jobs and nobody appropriate to fill them.”

Before Per Scholas, AJ said she was one of those individuals. After graduating from Spelman College with a degree in Mathematics, she was turned down from countless job offerings because she lacked experience in the technology field. AJ found Per Scholas and a community of educators and students who were excited to launch into a hands-on learning process that gave AJ applied knowledge on specific subjects. “The instructor knew his stuff and constantly related our classroom to things that were going on in the world. When the Note 7 started exploding in everyone’s pocket, our class discussed what was happening, what pieces were malfunctioning, and how it could be fixed.”

AJ met Nancy during a mock interview series that Per Scholas set up with Atlanta employers to offer students a chance to practice their career-ready skills. AJ was quick to tell Nancy about her broad range of interests from hardware and networking to coding. According to AJ, “I am that person that wants to take in as much information as possible and then decide what I want to do with it. I told Nancy, I would work for a company in any position as long as they take my progression seriously. I am not sure exactly what I want to do, but I want to advance.”

Nancy remembered those exact comments as a key indicator to the quality of Per Scholas students in general. For her, Per Scholas students demonstrated that they wanted a better job and income; however they were sincerely interested in technology and building their own knowledge. “Per Scholas is about finding the types of participants who truly want a career in the field and we were sold on AJ’s problem solving capability. She is wired for this and we can fill in the other parts.”

Worldpay, like many employers, is challenged to hire, train and retain a workforce that will continue to grow alongside the tech sector. The company has identified Per Scholas as a pipeline that develops local talent with a strong connection to the business community and local workforce. According to Nancy, “We are on a journey, we want to help the community and while in the process, benefit our own workforce and bottom-line.”

AJ is equally excited about this growing partnership. A new Worldpay headquarters is in Atlanta and there will be many more positions opening in the future, especially on the product development team. There will be training opportunities and career tracks to choose from. AJ speaks fondly about her first month at Worldpay. “I think it has become very rare for companies to take their employees seriously. I feel a certain sense of self-worth I didn’t have before. Getting this job, seeing how everyone else works every day, I don’t have those performance fears anymore.”

About Worldpay:

Worldpay is a leading payments company with global reach. We provide an extensive range of technology-led payment products and services to over 400,000 customers, enabling their businesses to grow and prosper. We manage the increasing complexity of the payments landscape for our customers, allowing them to accept the widest range of payment types around the world. Using our network and technology, we are able to process payments from geographies covering 99% of global GDP, across 146 countries and 126 currencies.  We help our customers to accept more than 300 different payment types.

For more information, visit www.worldpay.com

Check out past Monthly Impact Reports here.

“I feel a certain sense of self worth I didn’t have before” Per Scholas Alum AJ Digs Deep In Her Training to Find Success: Monthly Impact Report – Feb. 2017

Aquila Jimenez, a graduate of Per Scholas Atlanta’s IT Support training course, is about to finish her first month as an IT Product Analyst at Worldpay. She is a member of the Solutions Engineering team, responsible for analyzing, designing and developing Worldpay’s systems software.  Her most recent project involved geolocating customer inquiries that will help the Solutions team analyze and understand patterns of support. Aquila goes by AJ and six months ago she said, “I didn’t even know a motherboard was inside a computer.”

AJ, along with many Per Scholas graduates, is a problem solver with a curious mind. Nancy Cox, Senior Vice President for Solutions Engineering at Worldpay remembers their first meeting when AJ shared, “I don’t let things stop me. I dig in until I find it.” For Nancy, and other Worldpay staff who are committed to hiring the best tech talent to suit their business needs, this was an immediate indicator that AJ was perfect for the Worldpay team.

From Nancy’s perspective, “As an employer, what I see are college graduates and participants in other programs who aren’t quite ready to work. When a company brings young talent into the organization, they become a project, because there are so few internal corporate training programs that close the training gaps. We are all wrestling with the tech hire initiative problem, wanting to be able to support people entering the technology workforce where we have many open jobs and nobody appropriate to fill them.”

Before Per Scholas, AJ said she was one of those individuals. After graduating from Spelman College with a degree in Mathematics, she was turned down from countless job offerings because she lacked experience in the technology field. AJ found Per Scholas and a community of educators and students who were excited to launch into a hands-on learning process that gave AJ applied knowledge on specific subjects. “The instructor knew his stuff and constantly related our classroom to things that were going on in the world. When the Note 7 started exploding in everyone’s pocket, our class discussed what was happening, what pieces were malfunctioning, and how it could be fixed.”

AJ met Nancy during a mock interview series that Per Scholas set up with Atlanta employers to offer students a chance to practice their career-ready skills. AJ was quick to tell Nancy about her broad range of interests from hardware and networking to coding. According to AJ, “I am that person that wants to take in as much information as possible and then decide what I want to do with it. I told Nancy, I would work for a company in any position as long as they take my progression seriously. I am not sure exactly what I want to do, but I want to advance.”

Nancy remembered those exact comments as a key indicator to the quality of Per Scholas students in general. For her, Per Scholas students demonstrated that they wanted a better job and income; however they were sincerely interested in technology and building their own knowledge. “Per Scholas is about finding the types of participants who truly want a career in the field and we were sold on AJ’s problem solving capability. She is wired for this and we can fill in the other parts.”

Worldpay, like many employers, is challenged to hire, train and retain a workforce that will continue to grow alongside the tech sector. The company has identified Per Scholas as a pipeline that develops local talent with a strong connection to the business community and local workforce. According to Nancy, “We are on a journey, we want to help the community and while in the process, benefit our own workforce and bottom-line.”

AJ is equally excited about this growing partnership. A new Worldpay headquarters is in Atlanta and there will be many more positions opening in the future, especially on the product development team. There will be training opportunities and career tracks to choose from. AJ speaks fondly about her first month at Worldpay. “I think it has become very rare for companies to take their employees seriously. I feel a certain sense of self-worth I didn’t have before. Getting this job, seeing how everyone else works every day, I don’t have those performance fears anymore.”

About Worldpay:

Worldpay is a leading payments company with global reach. We provide an extensive range of technology-led payment products and services to over 400,000 customers, enabling their businesses to grow and prosper. We manage the increasing complexity of the payments landscape for our customers, allowing them to accept the widest range of payment types around the world. Using our network and technology, we are able to process payments from geographies covering 99% of global GDP, across 146 countries and 126 currencies.  We help our customers to accept more than 300 different payment types.

For more information, visit www.worldpay.com

Check out past Monthly Impact Reports here.

Per Scholas Ambassador Blogs

Stories from our Ambassadors across the country.

NEW YORK

Sade Strachan

“My name is Sade Strachan, I’m 28 years old from the South Bronx. I graduated from Per Scholas May of 2016 receiving my A+ certification in IT Support. I now work for NCR Corporation as a Second Level Customer Engineer.” Read more.

ATLANTA

Vanessa Brown

“My name is Vanessa Brown, originally from Long Island, NY, but currently reside in Lawrenceville, GA. It is a suburb approximately 30 miles outside of Atlanta. I was one of the first graduates of the Long Island class sponsored by Per Scholas in 1997. My very first job after graduating was with IBM.” Read more.

DALLAS

Alex Hernandez

“My name is Alex Hernandez and I attended the first class held at Per Scholas’ Dallas campus that started back in March of 2015. I have lived in Dallas Texas my whole life and knew the struggles of finding decent employment in a competitive market all too well.  I truly believe that if I did not attend Per Scholas, I would still be working labor intensive jobs earning less than half of what I make today.” Read more.

“Technology just fits who I am, it is where my heart has been and it’s what I want.”

Roy considers himself a lifelong learner with a passion for tech. He loved computers growing up and taught himself many of the skills necessary to start an independent tech-on-call business that he operated for several years. However, it was not until he received the training and certification opportunity from Per Scholas that he truly felt the beginnings of his career develop.

Growing up in northern Ohio, Roy moved to Columbus in 2000 to pursue careers that offered financial stability. He was stretched thin, working two part-time jobs in wine and tech sales. In an effort to follow his passion, Roy decided to quit his job as a wine salesman, but was laid off from the tech company just one month later. In a period of financial uncertainty, Roy moved back in with his parents and struggled to find a path forward. For a long period of time Roy felt uncertain and began second guessing some choices that had left him with a lack of self confidence and financial means. He struggled to find opportunity and access to the fulfilling career he desired.

One morning, he opened a Craigslist Ad advertising free IT training and opportunities to pursue an A+ certification. Reflecting back Roy remarks, “I was at a very low point, I quit one job, and I got fired from another. If I wanted things to get better, Per Scholas was my big shot. It was the most affordable option, the most comprehensive option and it was the best opportunity to get the experience and certification I needed to not let those circumstances happen again.”

Roy worked hard to receive his A+ certification but he did not stop there. Motivated by an internal drive to succeed and a love for technology Roy committed to another eight weeks of studying for the Network+ exam. He aced the test, missing only one question, and accepted a job working as a Technician at a Help Desk. However, it quickly became clear that the company needed more than what a troubleshooting professional could offer and took the initiative to establish an entire IT department for the company. This included building out the budget for equipment and personnel to support the growing technology needs.

Roy was busy at work, but true to himself, he continued to strengthen his skills. During his first year of employment Roy studied and passed the Security+ exam adding a third certification to his growing list of certifications. When the company went under, Roy found himself in demand and immediately found a Network Administrator job for the nonprofit, Alvis180. Even better, Alvis180 is a mission driven organization assisting formerly incarcerated individuals reenter the workforce. In many ways, Roy has found two callings.

“Financially, I have never made this much money and I work for a non profit and it is work that I love.” Reflecting on his transformation after Per Scholas, “It has had the most important impact on my life both materially and psychologically. I got fired right before I started at Per Scholas. Now, next week I am taking two weeks of vacation and they are going to bring a contractor in to fill my role. I am in demand. They have to have me there, or someone with my skill set. They can’t get rid of me now.”

Roy has since advanced his career further as an IT Risk Analyst for Per Scholas Signature Partne TekSystems.

To learn more about Roy, click here.

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