Monday Dec 5th, 2016
Tamika Bryant attended Baltimore City public school Maryland Academy of Technology, Health & Science (MATHS) until she dropped out in the ninth grade. She had fallen behind and was considered overage and under-credited. Tamika acknowledged that she wasn’t exactly hanging around people who were going to inspire her.
The school referred her to the Eastside Youth Opportunity (YO) Baltimore Center, operated by the Historic East Baltimore Community Action Center (HEBCAC). In 2010, at age 18, Tamika began a personal journey to earn a high school diploma and find her way into a career path. Tamika was raised by her great aunt who instilled in her the importance of setting goals. Tamika recalls, “Even after I got my diploma I still continued to attend job readiness classes – I needed to know how to come out of my comfort zone, how to sell myself in an interview.”
It took three years for Tamika to earn her diploma and within that time she took advantage of everything YO offered that would help move her life forward. Tamika said, “I was there every day – or calling. I have dozens of certificates for things like most improved and 24 hours of participation. This helped me to recognize my accomplishments. YO prepared me with life skills that are much needed in today’s world. At the same time I was also able to have paid internships and summer jobs and career training.”
From April 2011 to August 2012, Tamika participated in several paid internships as an Office Assistant, Sales Consultant and Computer Assistant. In June of 2013 she qualified to work in a private-sector summer job through YouthWorks’ Hire One Youth initiative. She started her first of two summers working at CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield as a Data Entry Clerk. “Through each experience I gained more and more confidence and knew that I could not only achieve my goals but that I could prosper,” Tamika said.
Once Tamika earned her diploma, she set about trying to find her path. She enrolled in a vocational tech course called CompTIA A+ and thought this would be a great career path; however, it would require further degrees in order to advance.
Tamika remembers, “My advocate at YO kept encouraging me to accept change and be open to varied opportunities.” In 2015 Tamika applied to be an AmeriCorps/Public Allies member, granting her an internship at Fusion Partnerships as an Assistant Project Coordinator. She performed so well that in July 2016 she was promoted to a full-time with benefits position as an Administrative Program Assistant.
Outcomes & Benefits
YO helped teach Tamika workplace skills that are paying off now. She said, “The skills that I apply in my current job include critical thinking, problem solving, computer skills and being flexible.”
But it’s more than just a job for Tamika. She said, “This job allows me to help people and be part of a community that is making a difference. I’d like to start a mentoring program in my home neighborhood someday soon.”
What a great year for Tamika. She has a job she loves, bought a car in July, and on November 22nd became a first-time homeowner at age 24.