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Individual Success Story


“We literally escaped. We each had one backpack, that’s it. Now I have a house full of stuff. The sky is the limit because there is nothing holding me back.”

She’s Hired!

TW: Sexual assault

“Little by little he demeaned me and made me into what he wanted. There was sexual abuse… He would lock my daughter and I in the fifth wheel trailer, and we couldn’t get out. He raped me on a nightly basis. And I didn’t realize that it was abuse.” 

Judy* lost her self-confidence after being in an abusive marriage for 30 years. Over the years, the relationship carved out and whittled away at the core of who she was, leaving her described as “his wife” and nothing more.  

“I wasn’t allowed friends when I was with my husband. He had to be number one,” Judy remembered. “One time he heard me tell my parents that I loved them, and he went ballistic. He said, ‘You can’t love them, you love me.’ And I told him that there are different kinds of love, and I did love him. And he took advantage of that.” 

Reality within the marriage went from bad to worse for both Judy and her daughter, who’d also started suffering abuse at the hands of her father. They escaped in the middle of the night, each with one backpack when Judy’s daughter was 15 years old.  

Out from underneath the suffocating effects of ongoing abuse, Judy and her daughter focused on healing and reconnecting. While Judy looked for employment, she also found herself in a battle with breast cancer. She entered counseling and worried for her daughter who struggled with suicidal thoughts and didn’t leave their home for years.  

Judy was filled with pride when her daughter came to her in January 2024 with the news that she and her partner would like to move states and start a life together. Even though it would take time to adjust to being geographically distant from each other for the first time in their lives, for Judy, it was proof of just how far they’d come from that night they escaped with only what they could carry.  

She also knew that with her daughter venturing into a new life of her own, it was now time to truly get her own fresh start on life.  

“I haven’t been employed since 2017, I had to use my 401k to live and survive. And it’s been barely surviving,” she said. “I’ve been trying to get on food stamps, but it’s hard now. I’d rather work. Have my insurance, be able to buy my own food.” 

Judy started researching to find support for women in the Phoenix area and found Fresh Start. She initially took several workshops through Fresh Start before applying to join the Semiconductor cohort in early 2024.  

“Semiconductor training takes me back to my first love because I went into the Navy as an electronics technician before going to work at a Nevada test site for 10 years. Then I did some manufacturing work, and mainly, I was a maintenance tech,” she shared.  

Judy felt that she was able to apply her knowledge due to her enate ability to explain things to people in everyday terms for easy information consumption. She was an experienced problem solver and always enjoyed figuring out why things weren’t operating the way they should.  

“When we were troubleshooting, I could figure out what wasn’t doing its job and then figure out why it wasn’t doing its job,” she continued.  

Judy was excited to be accepted into the Fresh Start Semiconductor cohort, but it did not come without new challenges she would need to address. Judy found out that she would no longer be able to live in her sister’s home. She had one month to find a new living situation.  

This development put extra pressure on Judy to find a job quickly to avoid homelessness. Once again, Judy proved to herself and those around her that even through major adversity, she would stay positive about her future. 

“It’s just opening the door to go do what’s best for me. I’m being shown a clear path and it’s time to go do what makes me happy.” 

Sure enough, Judy successfully completed the semiconductor cohort and she eagerly participated in all the career development activities designed to prepare her for interviews with local employers.  At the career fair hosted by Fresh Start, Judy impressed multiple employers with her background in manufacturing. She spoke at length with employers from TEL and even called upon her newfound confidence to ask if they could hire her before month-end. Way to go, Judy! 

“I went through hell, but I did it. Now I’m at this next step in my life and I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it. If other women see my success, maybe they’ll know that they can do it too.” 

In July 2024, Judy celebrated five years cancer-free with her new career role in the semiconductor industry as a Field Engineer II with TEL.  

She’s Hired! 

“When I’m telling my story I like to focus on finding the positive, the joy, the grace. And keep going. Don’t give up, if one thing doesn’t work out, try something else.”