Wednesday Feb 13th, 2019
Mary Carter’s priorities changed when she had a child as a teenager. Maintaining a full-time academic schedule was too much of a challenge and she dropped out of school. It was ten years later when Mary finally completed her high school studies.
“I had already tried a couple other GED programs when my sister recommended the Youth Opportunity [YO] Center. I knew right away that Mr. Stanley and Mr. McFarland were going to get me to where I needed to be,” Mary said.
The Westside YO center is operated by the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development and provides academic support, job readiness training and connections to career and employment opportunities. While continuing to work toward her GED goals, Mary took advantage of many of YO Baltimore’s services and programs. “YO helped me find different jobs – I worked as a salesperson at Lexington Market, had security jobs and other retail experiences,” Mary said. “Then in 2014 I enrolled in a special program called C4 [through YO Baltimore] where I was able to attain four certifications – high school diploma, certified nursing assistant (CNA), geriatric nursing assistant (GNA) and certified phlebotomy technician (CPT).”
Mary was such a fixture at the YO center, she was often called on to represent the program to various groups. She said, “I spoke on behalf of YO, to groups of funders and other stakeholders and one time I found myself in front of service providers from other countries.
“It’s the advocates at YO that are really going to work with you – they’re going to motivate you and encourage you – not just with words but with genuineness,” Mary shared. “My life was extremely busy managing children, a marriage, school, employment and church. I really benefited from all the support that YO offered.”
Mary has a world full of dreams ahead of her. She wants to go to college to get a master’s in Psychology and then on to get a Ph.D. “In five years I hope to open a multipurpose youth center which will offer counseling, mentoring, and a variety of activities and programs such as life skills training,” Mary said.
In 2015, Mary teamed up with a friend and developed a business plan together. “We’ve started a motivational podcast that we hope is informative and helpful to others. Sometimes we present specific topics and open up a dialogue to hear others’ opinions. Other times we go off the top of our heads about something that is currently relevant,” Mary said. “At times the conversations get very personal.”
Outcomes & Benefits
Mary still manages to keep her life super busy with family, continuing education and generating multiple business ideas. “I recently took on the role of Booking Manager for a local gospel group. And I have started a clothing line called Queen M.E. that I’m promoting through social media,” Mary said. “Everything I’m doing right now is going to prosper through networking, media promotions and just by investing in myself. I’m going to have a guest talk-show on TV one day,” Mary said confidently.
Mary’s wisdom to others? “If you have certain talents you should cultivate them and profit from them. Stay focused. Realize how important education is for you, not just for the moment but for your future. They say the sky’s the limit but I believe it’s your mind that limits. We only use our brain at about 10 percent. What are you doing with the other 90 percent?” Mary asked.