Hewan knows what it means to work hard, overcome obstacles and pursue a dream. And, with a little support from LSS and our friends at the TD Charitable Foundation, she’s well on her way!
Before she was even born, her Ethiopian parents were forced to flee their home to escape civil unrest, and Hewan entered the world in a Ugandan refugee camp. She and her three younger siblings grew up in the camp without a high-quality education and without prospects for the future—but with hope that they would someday be resettled as refugees in a safe place they could call home.
The family of six got a fresh start in 2013, when they were approved to be resettled in Jacksonville, Florida. Immediately upon her arrival, Hewan was enrolled in middle school. With little formal education and limited English, she struggled to improve her language skills and learn what was being taught in class, all while navigating adolescence. After much hard work and intensive support from her LSS youth specialist Irina, Hewan earned a high school diploma. She dreamed of a career in the medical field, but wasn’t really sure where to start. She began working as an elementary school monitor, and also enrolled in classes at FSCJ to continue improving her English skills.
When LSS’s Steps 2 Success program began recruiting candidates for medical assistant training, Irina immediately thought of Hewan’s dream, and how this opportunity could be a stepping stone to achieving it. With a grant from the TD Charitable Foundation, LSS was able to enroll Hewan and others in the training. For 12 weeks, she and eight other immigrant women attended twice-weekly night classes at LSS, taught by NyWes Healthcare. Hewan summoned the perseverance and discipline that had served her so well in middle and high school, and with hard work she overcame her anxiety about drawing blood and taking tests, and completed the course.
After completion of the training, Hewan formed a study group with Irina and other women from her training group to prepare for the certification exam. She found herself beginning to take on a leadership role within the group, and also making some truly meaningful friendships. She recently passed the National Health Career Association exam on her first try and obtained her Clinical Medical Assistant Certificate.
Hewan is grateful to both LSS and the TD Charitable Foundation for the opportunity to pursue her certification. She says that the training confirmed to her that she is on the right career path and in addition to building her knowledge and skillset, it also built her self-confidence. Now, she is looking for the perfect job that will fulfill her desire to help others and propel her forward on the path to her dream job: becoming an occupational therapist.
And, like all Steps 2 Success clients, Hewan is receiving financial coaching in addition to career coaching to help her increase her net income and build her credit.
“We are inspired by Hewan’s story and applaud LSS for the incredible work they do to help members of the community overcome obstacles and achieve their goals,” said Cindy Stover, TD’s North Florida Commercial Market President.
Hewan is just one of several women whose lives are being transformed because of the generous grant from the TD Charitable Foundation. The foundation’s investment in her, the other women and their futures, is truly an investment in our whole community!
With sincere gratitude to: