Skip to Content

Individual Success Story


“Hopefully my story will inspire somebody who is middle age, in a career change, or a single parent and when they hear my story, they’ll think, ‘if she can do it, then I can do it too.” 

She’s Hired!

In August 2023, Vonetta* was reaching a near breaking point with the state of her job as an educator and she struggled with the direction of her career. But as a 47-year-old single mother of an 18-year-old-son on the autism spectrum, could she really change careers in mid-life? 

Originally from Houston, Vonetta and her son moved to Phoenix in 2019. With a masters in elementary education, Vonetta was once a proud and passionate teacher, but circumstances began to change the teaching environment and her passion waned.  

“When you work in a service industry job, you either have a passion for it, or you’re just in it for the benefits and the paycheck. I was never in it for the paycheck. I really did dedicate my time to the students… but it got to a point where I started feeling burnout.”  

Then the pandemic happened, and Vonetta adapted to teaching children aged 10-11 years old on Zoom. The move from in-person to on-camera shifted the dynamic and exasperated the issues Vonetta was already struggling to reconcile.  

With passion missing from her teaching career, Vonetta googled “career change programs for women” and found Fresh Start. For three months she didn’t pursue its resources, until December 2023 when she was scrolling Facebook and saw an ad for Fresh Start. This time she clicked on it and saw all the Fresh Start programs offered including Semiconductor, HVAC, and Banking.  

“I submitted my application to the semiconductor cohort online and I received an email invitation to set up a meeting via Zoom. I started the process in December 2023 and then in January, I found out that I got approved for the program,” she remembered. 

Vonetta started the Semiconductor course at Mesa Community College (MCC) and juggled single motherhood, her coursework, and still held her current job at Mayo Clinic as a cashier in the hospital’s cafeteria.  

Every day, Vonetta’s morning started at 4 a.m., she arrived at work by 5:30 a.m. and was on shift until 2 p.m. She then drove across town to MCC for the Semiconductor cohort from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. She did this everyday throughout the duration of the cohort: rinse and repeat.  

“I thought initially that I could work and go to school, and it wouldn’t be that hard. But I would come to class every day and sometimes I’d be five minutes, ten minutes, 15 minutes late. I didn’t anticipate the work and school schedule to be so challenging but because I live in Chandler, I work at the Mayo Clinic, and then I was going to class at the Mesa Community College, it was difficult.” 

While she managed her schedule to fulfill all her commitments, Vonetta also needed to quickly learn the semiconductor language. 

“Learning some of the electrical and manufacturing language was the difficult part for me… Our instructor was awesome, and when he did the tangible, hands-on learning, it connected.” 

Vonetta, with her busy schedule, benefited from the course’s self-paced, open-ended timeline as everything was completed on the Canvas platform including quizzes.  

“The fact that we had free reign of all the quizzes and our professor gave us a deadline of the end of the cohort, I appreciated that because it let me work at my own pace.” 

At her cohort completion, Vonetta acknowledged that without Fresh Start, she probably wouldn’t have pursued a semiconductor certification on her own.  

“With the encouragement of Fresh Start and MCC and this certificate in my armor, I have the confidence to say, ‘I can do this.” 

Vonetta also acknowledged that Fresh Start helps with more than just the career aspects of a person.  

“This program has invaluable offerings. It’s not just career training. Fresh Start looks at the whole person and asks, ‘How can we help this individual on different levels?’ Fresh Start meets you where you are and then pushes you to elevate yourself in a positive direction.” 

For women who are looking to make a career change, Vonetta hopes they follow her example and utilize Fresh Start’s resources.  

“Fresh Start is going to support you, beginning, middle, and end… They understand that things can be hard and that situations arise, but they want you to be able to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I encourage any woman, if they’re going through something, reach out to Fresh Start. You’re not by yourself.” 

As she took the next steps to change her career, Vonetta set new goals for herself: one day combining her two loves.  

“If I could have the best of both worlds, I’d still use my education background and incorporate technology, that would be wonderful.” 

She’s Hired!  

Vonetta accepted an offer with the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) in Phoenix and has been going through onboarding and on-the-job training for her new career.