“They look at you like you’re nothing.”

by | Oct 1, 2019 | Success Stories, YouthBuild

Despite past experiences, Khalilah Hammash is building herself up.

“I’ve never had anyone reach out like that.”

“I had the privilege of living with my mom,” Khalilah begins to explain her life before SERJobs, “So I had a lot of time to sit and think about what I wanted to do.” Khalilah knew that she wanted to get her GED. Unfortunately, knowing what you want sometimes isn’t enough to move forward.

She mentioned going to a GED class at a nearby college, but quickly lost “motivation because the teacher didn’t care.” She went on to explain that her first GED instructor would explain course material in one way and one way only. If she was unable to understand her instructor’s explanation, then that was it for her.

“They look at you like you’re nothing.”

Needless to say, this first attempt at obtaining her GED didn’t last long. Khalilah discovered SER through a Google search. She became interested in our youth and GED services. After stopping by to see what SER was about, she was faced with a difficult decision.

On the day Khalilah was supposed to come into SER to begin her GED class, she also had the opportunity to interview for a job at Fiesta. So what was she to do? Interview for a position that would help her earn money now or take a chance on a program that she was unfamiliar with but could lead to greater financial success in the future?

Khalilah chose the secure route– and can any of us blame her? Uncertainty is a luxury that not many of us cannot afford. Khalilah took the job at Fiesta, but couldn’t shake her interaction with SER from her mind. “I postponed that and worked, but all I could think about was the SER program.”

She also couldn’t stop thinking about Ms. Zully Ramon and Ms. Liz, “I’ve never had anyone reach out like that,” she told us. She was amazed at how much someone cared about her getting her GED and how simply they laid out a career projection right before her eyes. Eventually, she gave up her job and returned to SER.

“No has ever given me the feeling that it’s okay to be where I’m at.”

Khalilah joined SER’s YouthBuild program. YouthBuild is equal parts GED course, NCCER and OSHA 10 occupational training and certification course, and community service. Through this program, students are taught to gain confidence in themselves by uplifting their community, getting real job readiness skills, and preparing to take their GED tests.

Looking back on her time in YouthBuild to where she is now, Khalilah says that going to SER is the “best decision I’ve ever made; I couldn’t be more grateful.” She then laughs and jokingly says, “I think they care more about where you’re going than you do.”

She says that feeling valued and cared for like this made her confident in herself. She quickly began to think in terms of “what my life could be.” Not only did she find comfort in our staff, but with her YouthBuild peers. She mentioned that she found people in her class going through similar problems and she quickly felt a sense of camaraderie amongst her classmates.

When working on the construction and volunteer portions of her program Khalilah mentioned that they would “volunteer with houses affected by Hurricane Harvey or go help out at Meals On Wheels,” she found her volunteer working to be “touching; it just felt really good” to give back to others.

Given Khalilah’s previous experience with GED courses, we asked if she had any bad days during our program when she did not feel motivated. She said that before SER, “I didn’t have a plan or anyone to motivate me. During the program, I would still go to school on my bad days. I was ready, I was motivated.” Khalilah knows that SER believes in her, so even on her bad days, she believes in us too.

“SER showed me I can be myself and still take care of business.”

Khalilah says that alongside her YouthBuild skills, a big takeaway from SER is “how to present myself in the workforce. SER showed me I can be myself and still take care of business.” She now knows that she doesn’t have to sacrifice who she is to get hired and has instead turned her personality into an asset.

She is currently an intern at the San Jose Clinic. This position was awarded to her through SER’s employment services team. Khalilah is currently honing in her “clerical, office, and administrative skills.” What she’s most looking forward to is her starting her new job once her internship ends.

She met with employers from Color Factory Houston at a SER job fair and after applying and interview on her own, got a position as a tour guide! “This is the type of environment I want to be in,” she tells us after explaining her new job.

Overall, “YouthBuild is an empowering program that challenges us to think outside the box and to be thinking one step further.” As Khalilah plans for her future, these are skills that she’s already putting to good use.

When asked what advice she would give to young people considering SER’s services she said, “Go with your gut. If it’s your time, then do it. You have to know and really appreciate what you’re doing.”