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Individual Success Story


“I waited until I was completely stuck, and I still didn’t ask for help. I went all the way down, almost lost everything and I still didn’t ask for help. And it wasn’t until I asked for help that things started changing.”

She’s Hired!

“The depression, losing so much money, being the breadwinner, my car payment was late, all my bills were behind, I was going to a job that I absolutely couldn’t stand most days… it was just a long battle,” said Patricia*.  

In Summer 2023, Patricia was on a 90-day sick leave from her job at FedEx with an illness that doctors struggled to understand and left her unable to drive or work. 

“I had to wear a heart monitor because my heart was skipping beats and pulsating at night. I’d stop breathing and then the veins in my leg – the blood was going the wrong direction, so I had to get on blood thinners and a couple of different medications. I couldn’t drive, I couldn’t work,” she recalled. 

A 90-day sick leave sounds like a solution for those who need it, but not for Patricia. While she wasn’t working, she wasn’t getting paid and it brought up several issues with her current job that she knew she needed to change, and quickly. 

“Not having any benefits at my current job (pushed me to look for other opportunities). The pay is good, but it’s not enough to say I’m going to retire in a few years. I’m not being challenged anymore… I’ve been driving trucks for 20 years now. I really wanted to do something different,” she said. 

In the end, the doctors believed that her health issues were rooted in stress. Patricia was living in the Phoenix area when she lost her father to COVID-19. In the aftermath, issues arose with her brother and her mother moved to Phoenix and into Patricia’s care, adding to the responsibility on Patricia’s plate.  

“I’ve lost a lot of people; I grew up in urban areas and I’ve been to tons of funerals but something about losing my dad and making the decisions that I made with not being able to go home at that time, was troubling me.”   

While she was away from work, Patricia spent time researching which industries her current skills and education would easily transfer to.  

“Tech just kept popping up. Everything was technology. Once I saw how it was growing, I thought, ‘How can I take logistics and apply that to technology?’ It took me losing a lot of money to realize that this job doesn’t have my back, my benefits aren’t enough for me to stay here. I’m 40 years old, I take care of my mom, and I want to enjoy going to work.” 

As Patricia contemplated her next career steps, Fresh Start entered her life. After researching technology careers on her own, Patricia signed up for Mesa Community College’s semiconductor class waitlist. She heard from Fresh Start first, who offered admission into the semiconductor cohort, no waitlist needed. 

“Once Fresh Start reached out, it was my sign that if I don’t take this opportunity, I’m stuck in this space where I am right now, for a long time. So, I jumped at the opportunity and I’m glad I did.” 

Throughout her life, Patricia has been familiar with struggle. She grew up with a single mother and watched her parents go through a lot in their relationship. Patricia stepped up to help raise her little brother and worried about bringing money into the household at a young age.  

Patricia graduated high school and started attending college at Morgan State where she aimed to study engineering. But that goal ended when her mom was diagnosed with lupus, and she stopped going to college and moved back home. From there, her life continued to have ups and downs. 

“I went to jail; I got out jail and got a good job working for Kraft Foods for about 15 years. I got my CDL (commercial driver’s license), and everything started picking up; life was smooth. (I got my degree from Tulsa State in 2016) … then COVID hit. It took everything that I had going on in life… I didn’t save any money and had a bad breakup and then once my dad died it was like a slope. I was going straight down. Now I’m picking myself up, I came from some heartache and some pain but I’m moving up now,” she smiled. 

When she came to Fresh Start, Patricia was in a dark place and didn’t recognize herself.  

“Mentally, that was the biggest thing because when I lost confidence, I lost the willpower, ambition, and the go-get it done mentality, I didn’t care if my car got taken (because of past due bills). And I’d never been like that. I was always excited, ready to go, looking to network, anything I needed, I’d go do it. But this time I shut down,” she remembered. 

Patricia knew she needed to pick up the pieces of her life for her mother who had nursed her in sickness after the death of her father.  

“I need to be stronger for my mom even though she was strong for me. She’s the one who saved me in a sense. I just needed to get up. I’m not that person and I just kept praying, ‘God, I haven’t been here before, please show me the way to go.” 

After finishing the semiconductor cohort, Patricia changed the way she defined success for herself.  

“Before, I defined success as being at the forefront of everything, being the leader. But with that came a lot of pressure on my back, carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders every single day. And now success means happiness and security. I’m secure in knowing what I want to do and which way I’m going. I feel good about today and tomorrow and everything that’s coming.” 

In fact, Patricia felt like now, her life had come full circle. 

“My passion was engineering. It’s so funny that I’m doing this now because it’s taking me back to what I always wanted to do.” 

In times when it felt like pressure was mounting, Patricia also found motivation in her cousin’s journey, as she was also able to leave her similar childhood situation and was recently accepted into the military, fulfilling her own lifelong dream. Seeing her success showed Patricia that she too could do what she set her mind to. 

“Whenever things get rough, I go, ‘No I’ve got to prove a point now.’ I’ve got to make sure my cousin knows that she has somebody in the family that is also accomplishing things that we weren’t taught to accomplish.”   

Both Patricia and her cousin fought generational habits to make their career goals come true.  

“In my family, we’re not teaching our young-ins anything but: work two jobs, live in an apartment, never leave our home state, go to school but not finish. So, for her to do this and complete it, it’s amazing to watch. And that’s given me the confidence and the ambition to keep going.” 

Throughout the course material, Patricia worked on soft skills she felt could be better, including her time management and networking skills. 

“Networking, I struggled with that at times, just talking to people. Depends on the environment, but being able to speak, start conversations, be clear and concise, I’ve gotten better at that,” Patricia said. 

The cohort also pushed Patricia to get into the habit of planning her day to the tee. She had designated times for eating, working out, and studying so she could ensure all her obligations were met.  

Recently, Patricia was catching up with an old friend and realized that she wasn’t the same person from that time in her life. All the circumstances she’d been through changed her for the better. 

“As far as my future goes, I feel like I wasn’t an engineer at Morgan State because it just wasn’t time. I’m 40 now and I’m visualizing a life for myself. I couldn’t do that being the person that I was then. My life is on the up if I stay the person I’ve changed to be.” 

Her advice to other women is a simple message: don’t to give up.  

“It’s so easy to give up. It’s so easy to say, ‘that’s unattainable or ‘I’ll go some other time.’ I think it’s important for women to know that they have support… Even though the world feels out of wack and discouraging for women sometimes, try to stay steadfast, plan ahead, and be intentional. If you know exactly what you want and how you want to move, usually for me, those pieces of the puzzle just slide together.” 

She’s Hired! 

Patricia accepted an offer for a role as a Process Associate with Granger. True to her advice to other women that “it’s attainable”, she also plans to pursue an upcoming apprenticeship opportunity through Fresh Start to further her skillset. Stay-tuned!