Spotlight

Jasmine Walthall

Anyone who knows Jasmine Walthall will tell you that her joy is contagious, and her helpfulness is unsurpassable.  This articulate Year Up graduate will tell you that she has a lot to be happy about.  She giggles and says, “I turned in an orange apron at a national retailer for a business suit.” She further explains that she had amazing role models when she was young: her mother and grandparents.  Her grandparents taught her the value of relating to others, showing respect, and active listening, while her mother reinforced these values and showed her what company loyalty and hardwork looked like. Yet, like many working teenagers, she wanted a career and wanted the opportunity to grow and contribute to a company that sought her values and abilities.   “I wanted a career.  To go into a company, become a contributing employee, to understand what they needed, why, and to gain new skills.” In midst of this challenging time, she was introduced to Year Up. As she began the program, she felt a personal transformation.  “It was like a deep breath of fresh air.”  She went on to say, “Others in my learning community classes at Year Up started to show the same. More confidence. Understanding rules. Giving and receiving performance based feedback. Bravely tackling challenges that use to be riddled with fear and doubt. We were changing.  Professional instructors, assigned mentors, advisors, coaches and a host of other people believed in us. We started to believe it too!”

Jasmine’s internship brought her into a role in finance at one of Boston’s largest financial institutions.  She balanced  her interpersonal skills with the technical skills she had been learning with Year Up. Excel spreadsheets became such a part of her every day activities that she could not imagine a day without them.  Despite success in her internship, an immediate opening was not available.  But, she was not discouraged.  After extensive interviews at Year Up’s national office, she found her “value match” with the organization that she attributes to “smoothed out her edges, and gave her and her fellow Year Up graduates a whole new view of their future.” As the  Front Office Coordinator in Boston, she is the first face anyone sees or hears when they call.  She is recognized by staff and visitors alike for  big smile and composure that brings to all tasks, making everything seem so effortless.  It is as though every visitor is the most important person that’s ever entered their Federal Street office. Her response to this observation: “They are.”

As for her introduction to YUPRO, “We alumni have been yearning for more career direction, advice, and support, from a Year Up affiliated organization. This way we know that you have our best interests in mind. You care, and like Year Up employees, will work tirelessly to bring out the best of us, and will correct us, or redirect, us as needed.  You get the idea of closing the Opportunity Divide, not just for me, but for those who will come after me.  Those who may live on the streets, be supporting their family, or feel that there is no way out of the way they are living. For them, YUPRO is hope in action.”

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