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Individual Success Story


“I want a career. Not only for myself, but for my kids. I want to change their futures and their families’ futures. I want to be that steppingstone that puts our lives on a whole new track.”

She’s Hired!

In June 2023, Nina* googled, “support for women” for the first time. She spent the last 17 years in an abusive relationship with her husband and the father of her three children.  

“When I decided to leave my relationship, I didn’t have any support,” Nina remembered. “The people I was surrounded by were not healthy and I was the outcast. It was time for me to rebuild and get support from the right people.” 

Growing up, Nina imagined more for her life. She loved going to school and was an honor roll student. She planned on furthering her education by attending a four-year university.  

While Nina excelled at school, her home life took a major toll on her academic studies. She was expected to take care of and help raise her eight younger siblings.  

“I came home from school and took care of my siblings: feeding them, helping them with homework, waking up in the night to change diapers. After taking care of them in the mornings, I would end up being late for class and I lost my honors classes. And that hurt,” she said. 

Nina’s mother was emotionally/verbally and physically abusive and Nina felt she had nowhere to be safe when her new stepfather began to sexually abuse her. When she told her mother about the abuse, her mother didn’t believe her and kept Nina’s abuser under the same roof. 

Amid so many trials, Nina focused on graduating high school and getting to college, but even that proved futile when she began the application process and received shocking news. 

“I never got to go to college. It’s something I wanted to do, but when I submitted my application, I found out that I didn’t have a social security number so I couldn’t continue,” Nina said. 

She ended up marrying her high school sweetheart, but their love turned sour when, he too, became abusive. Nina stayed tied to the relationship under his threats to have her deported – she couldn’t bear being separated from her three children and the only country she’d ever known. For years, she thought about leaving but felt she had lost her voice.  

Finally, after many years, her life changed when she became a U.S. resident. She regained some power back and got the courage to tell her husband: “I want to leave.”  

“I had dreams of me enjoying life and I knew that life was waiting for me. But how would I get there?” she wondered.  

In June 2023, she googled “support for women” for the first time. She reached out to several organizations but never heard back from any of them. The next month, her husband forced his way back into the home and lived with them for several weeks. Nina was determined to find help and better her situation.  

“I thought, ‘I’m going to work on myself under the radar because if he sees it, he’s going to want to break it and he wants to cut my wings,” she said. 

In August he left again, and Nina took the opportunity to google, “support for women in domestic violence” and the first thing that came up was Fresh Start.  

She remembered how she immediately grabbed her bag and drove over to Fresh Start in downtown Phoenix. Upon her arrival, she learned about the many resources available to her and was told about the upcoming Women in Finance cohort starting soon. This was fantastic news for Nina who loved finance and always had math as her favorite subject in school.  

At first, self-doubt flooded her thoughts and she hesitated to apply to the program. “I was feeling so insecure because I was coming out of everything with my ex, I just didn’t feel good. It took me about two weeks, and I finally said, ‘You know what, I will get it.’ And I submitted my application.” 

Nina was accepted into the first-ever Women in Finance cohort at Fresh Start in Fall 2023.  

“I found everything that I was looking for at Fresh Start… I started taking classes and everything started to align. I was here every single day because Fresh Start has every pillar that I want to work on,” Nina said. 

She shared that she knows first-hand how support can make the biggest difference in transforming a life. That having the right people helping someone get from point A to point B is huge.  

“If I hadn’t found Fresh Start, I would’ve aimlessly been looking for jobs, still struggling,” Nina said. “I know I can build myself up, but it would’ve taken longer. The right support is what really gave me that jump. Now that I’ve found the right place (Fresh Start), I’ve done so much growth in two months. Now I’m asking, “What can’t I do from here on out?” 

After completing WIF with the inaugural group of women in the program, she participated in the interview event organized by Fresh Start and received offers from not one, but three employers, Rocket Mortgage, BMO and Desert Financial!  

“I want a career. Not only for myself, but for my kids. I want to change their futures and their families’ futures. I want to be that steppingstone that puts our lives on a whole new track. Me being that example shows that to them.” 

She’s Hired!

Nina was able to negotiate higher pay with benefits including flextime, childcare, and overtime pay, at her employer, TaxEnd!