Nadya, Maro'Jene, and Alana: Three alumni continue their careers with us
With different roads all leading back to OJ, administrative training alumni Nadya Poveda, Maro'Jene Alexander, and Alana Chisholm are sharing their expertise, experience, and hearts as staff members.
Nadya has the longest path with to OJ since graduating as part of Class 24, completing her internship in February 2008. More than ten years ago, Nadya first applied to the administrative training program as a stay-at-home mom to gain skills to re-enter the workforce after her husband suffered an injury at work. "The greatest reward of the program," Nadya shares, "was the love and affection I received and the knowledge that I was going to be able to make a difference in the lives of my family and hopefully the lives of others."
Nadya worked for a few weeks at the front desk supporting our evening Technology Center before landing the position that would serve as her career for the past 10 years. The timing was right when Nadya saw the email that Opportunity Junction was looking again to hire a bilingual program coordinator for the Technology Center. "It had been more than a decade, but OJ still felt like home. I knew I was meant to come back. I love working in the evening program helping the community access training, ESL, and have access to the computers. It feels like I never left."
Alana has been a fixture with the organization since completing the program as a member of Class 36 in March 2012. Alana was starting her life over after 12 years out of state. "I found myself back in California with no job, no money, and nothing to prove my job skills. I thought OJ would be just what I needed," says Alana. "After five months in the program, I had earned five Microsoft Office Specialist Certifications and a passion for teaching I learned while volunteering in the evening Technology Center. From life skills to job skills to computer skills, I left OJ to start a new chapter in my life, a happier, healthier, and more confident person."
Alana completed her internship and started a full-time position in the administrative field. However, OJ didn't let her go that easily. Since 2013, Alana has been a key volunteer managing the check-out and computer processes on the night of our annual Imagine Gala fundraiser. And in 2014, Alana joined the OJ team as our seasonal Do-It-Yourself-Tax-Assistance team lead growing the tax assistance service numbers every year.
Despite her administrative training and her seasonal work with OJ, Alana just couldn't get the love of teaching out of her heart. "In 2014, I was hired by Liberty Adult Education to work with our non-profit partner, Rubicon Programs, as a Career Technical Education Instructor in a pilot program. I loved it and earned my Adult Education Credential." Alana honed her talents as a computer skills instructor during her more than four years at the adult school. When OJ was hiring for a similar role for the administrative training program, Alana jumped at the chance to apply.
"I feel like everything has come full circle. I love teaching the class full of eager new trainees sitting in the same seat I was in so many years ago. When I first applied to the training program, this was not the career I envisioned for myself. Now I can't see myself doing anything else."
Maro'Jene is the most recent graduate whose passion and commitment was recognized by staff as a trainee in Class 54. "I came to Opportunity Junction because I was tired of working dead end fast food and seasonal retail positions. During the program, I learned so much about myself and the things I can accomplish," Maro'Jene shares.
When she completed her internship in March 2018, Maro'Jene volunteered during the Imagine Gala and began a temporary position as a Program Assistant at Los Medanos College (LMC).
She stayed closely connected, volunteering for a variety of opportunities such as helping with reception, data entry, and in our evening program. In May 2018, Opportunity Junction was able to expand services as part of the Contra Costa Workforce Collaborative adding career services to our evening program. Maro'Jene was the perfect fit to shepherd in our new services bringing her calm demeanor, strong skills, and warm personality to the team. A year and a half later, Maro'Jene was promoted to Career Counselor offering one-on-one coaching and wrap-around support to a caseload of job seekers.
"I couldn't believe the timing. My first evening role with OJ complemented my part-time work with LMC perfectly. When the LMC job ended and I was ready for one position, the career counselor opportunity arose. I love working directly with job seekers. I've always wanted to give back and help others; this position allows me to live that passion."