“It’s an impoverished way of thinking—that because things are the way they are now, they are never going to change,” shared Monique, 2018 Per Scholas IT Support graduate. When Monique first came to CityLink, she was unemployed and concerned about how she would be able to provide for herself and her son. “I come from generations of poverty. There was no reason for me to believe that my circumstances could ever change.”

At CityLink, she felt her perspective begin to shift: “I was having more and more trouble thinking of excuses. Here I was surrounded by all types of support. My Per Scholas instructor, Delrae, would do everything he could to help me understand something. If I needed tutoring, that was provided. If I was feeling stressed out, I could go talk to my service coordinator. What was keeping me from changing my life?”

Refusing to believe she was sentenced to a life of poverty, Monique resolved to work diligently, pouring over her notes from class each day and staying up late studying the material. When her son asked why she was always working on school, she told him, “Baby, we’re making sacrifices now so that we can have a better life in the future.”

Despite often feeling insecure, unqualified, and overwhelmed in class, Monique not only earned her CompTIA A+ certification but also graduated at the top of her class. However, after graduation, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. It took months of persistence until she found a job she loved at Ohio National Financial Services. It was there, working as an Information Security Intern where she discovered her passion for security.

Monique beamed with excitement as she explained how mentally engaging she finds her security projects. “It’s like building a jigsaw puzzle, but the difference is you have no outside border or picture of the finished puzzle. You have to piece together an answer with very limited points of data.”

Finding a line of work that employs her intellect has been deeply satisfying. “I feel like I’ve found a role where my natural skills, desire to improve processes, questions, and curiosity are used and appreciated. It’s actually really fun.”

Eager to dive deeper into security, Monique applied for a Lead Security Advisor role at Cadre Information Security. “People around me told me I didn’t have enough experience to apply for a role like that, but I didn’t listen to them.” Her perspective had changed: “I was done thinking that way. I may have less experience, but, put bluntly, I know I work harder than others. Going through Per Scholas proved that to myself.”

Monique was offered the position at Cadre and starts there Monday. Her next goal is to get her CISSP, Certified Information Systems Security Professional certification. In addition to finding a career path and subject field about which she is passionate, her salary has more than doubled! But more important to her than either of those factors is the lesson she’s been able to teach her son through this journey. “I’m showing him what’s possible.”

Monique shared that on a recent car ride home, her son exclaimed from the back seat, “Mommy, Mommy, look!” Alarmed, she asked what the matter was. Gazing around at the interior of their new vehicle, her son replied, “You said we were going to have a better life, and, look! You did it.”

Learn more about Per Scholas courses, offered at no cost to clients, at perscholas.org