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Individual Success Story


“In eight weeks, I’ve changed so much. It’s crazy how in such a short time, with these new people around me, I have changed.”

The young, empowered woman standing before her classmates on the final day of the Women in Finance program was unrecognizable compared to the woman who reached out to Fresh Start earlier that year. Six months ago, Daniela* was at her lowest point as she struggled to find her purpose and self-confidence. 

“Useless. That’s how I used to feel,” she recalled.  

At 19-years-old, Daniela had dreams of going to college and had been living with her mother in Mexico. She was determined to get her first job but couldn’t find anything in the area. Daniela described her home life as complicated and negative. 

“Sometimes people don’t encourage you, even your own mom. You expect something different, and I was trying my best. But I wasn’t emotionally okay and hearing all the negative comments from my mom about my life didn’t help. So, I decided to move because I wanted to do well for myself,” Daniela said.  

“I moved (to Phoenix) and wanted to have a fresh start – literally. I want to shut their mouths and show them that I can do something,” she said. 

Both Daniela’s godmother and aunt utilized Fresh Start and encouraged her to investigate the organization’s resources. Daniela remembered how they described Fresh Start as a place that helps women regardless of age or situation.  

“The first time I came to Fresh Start was for my godmother’s project management course graduation and she wanted me to see the environment. I was listening and observing and at the end she asked me what I thought, and I told her, “I really like how Fresh start empowers you and makes you feel good about yourself,” she said.  

Daniela noticed and was amazed how all the women in the ceremony encouraged each other and outwardly spoke highly of the others in the group.  

“As a woman, usually we run into women who don’t know that we should be empowering other women. So, seeing that here (at Fresh Start) was something I wanted. I want to empower other women and be empowered by other women,” Daniela recalled of her first encounter with Fresh Start.  

She mulled over her options and was intrigued by the upcoming Women in Finance cohort. She applied and was nervous for the interview stage of the process. She kept asking herself, ‘Am I going to make it?’ 

“Time passed and I got the congratulations letter! I cried out of excitement. ‘I’m actually going to have a fresh start! I can do this,” Daniela said.  

The first day of the cohort arrived and her nervousness returned. Daniela wondered what the other women in the cohort would be like.  

“It was my surprise that I was the youngest one. They’re all so experienced and I’m just 19. They had good things to say about themselves and hearing about what they wanted to do was motivational. They acted like moms to me because I’m the youngest. They encouraged me a lot and that has stuck with me,” Daniela said of her newfound sisterhood.  

She was particularly struck by a field trip the cohort took to the Arizona Bank & Trust. There, the group met with a bank employee with a similar story.  

“One of the women we met inspired me a lot because her first job was at Denny’s and that was the only experience she had before going into banking. I can relate because I now work at Forever21 and that’s the first job I’ve ever had,” Daniela said. “We started on the same little path and she’s doing great things. She inspired me a lot and the idea that I can be like her.” 

Throughout the cohort, Daniela enhanced her self-confidence through interview practice, public speaking role play, and encouragement from Fresh Start staff and her constant cheerleaders: her godmother and aunt. 

“It’s crazy how self-confidence can influence everything. When I was back in Mexico, I was really thinking I wasn’t going to do anything and thought, “What if I wasn’t here at all?” So, the fact that I’m able to do things, that I’m going to do big things, makes me want to go back to that Daniela a few months ago and say, ‘Girl, you’ve got this. You’ll be okay. Don’t doubt yourself. Don’t cry. You’ll see, just trust it.” 

Within so many unique career options in the finance industry, Daniela was pleasantly surprised to find a very specific niche that utilized her long-standing interests.  

“Through listening to the guest speakers, I realized I like the fraud division of the finance industry because of my interest in behavioral health and criminology. With the investigation component, I feel like that connects. And not only that, but who doesn’t want to help someone who is being scammed or is the victim of fraud,” she said.  

Daniela is also excited to start this new journey to encourage change within her community.  

“As a Hispanic, another reason that I chose the Women in Finance cohort is because it’s a taboo to talk about financials and I want to empower my community to feel comfortable going to a bank and opening an account. I want to bring that little change,” she said.  

At 19 years old, Daniela has a bright future ahead of her. She still aims to go to college, wants to buy her own home, and looks forward to working on the relationship with her mother. She is now armed with self-confidence, professional skills, and step-by-step goals to achieve her vision of self-sufficiency.  

“In eight weeks, I’ve changed so much. It’s crazy how in such a short time, with these new people around me, I have changed,” she said. “We do have to say thank you to Fresh Start. Thank you for all the support and the encouragement. It’s amazing.” 

For other young women seeking their own fresh starts, Daniela hopes they find the courage to step away from their fears, avoid the negativity of others, and be proud of every little accomplishment.  

“I would tell other young women that if they want a safe space where they can get help, that they should look into Fresh Start because that is a big step that you can take in whatever you want to do in life or career-wise,” she said. “Fresh Start is here to support you in whatever you can think of, and if they can’t, they will connect you with the right resources. Go and try it out and you won’t regret it.”