Jeremy spoke at Captial IDEA’s Celebration of Achievements in February 2019 and was featured in Capital IDEA’s 2018 Annual Report.
Good afternoon, my name is Jeremy Acosta and I’m honored to be here as a Capital IDEA alumn and one of the first graduates to come from the IT Career ACCelerator when it was just a pilot program. I’m glad to be here to speak about my experience and the obstacles that I overcame to get to where I am today.
I have a great job as a Help Desk Technician at LifeWorks, and I enjoy every moment. LifeWorks is a local nonprofit that provides pathways to self-sufficiency for more than 4,000 youth and families, many of whom are facing life’s most difficult challenges, including homelessness, trauma, and abuse. In addition to help desk support, I also work on their network and servers.
Before all this, I was a trouble maker. My parents separated while I was still young, and it was just me and my mom. I never had a father figure in my life, and my clearest memory to this day is watching my mom struggle to make ends meet and do what she had to take care of me. With no guidance in my life, I ended up getting into all kinds of trouble and ultimately landed myself in jail, just like many statistics would have predicted.
After I got out on probation, I had fines to pay and restrictions on where I could go. I did my best to find a job so that I could pay my dues, but it wasn’t easy with a record. Frustrated and feeling stuck, I started considering some of the same things that got me in trouble in the first place.
Luckily, my mom saw the signs, and she decided to intervene. She told me that I had a choice – to give up on myself and go back to jail, or do the right thing because I was a smart man. I made the right choice and decided not to go down those old roads.
I moved to Houston to look for work. I found a fire and water restoration job. It was physically demanding and I was always on call, day and night, including weekends and holidays. I typically worked over 130 hours a week. I was finally paying my fines and earning good money, but the job was taking its toll. I couldn’t keep it up so, I decided to go back home to Austin.
When I got back, my mom told me about this program called Capital IDEA. She said they could help me earn an associate degree and get into a high demand career. I went to the information session to learn more, and I remember thinking to myself, “What’s the catch? This is way too good to be true. All this support!”
I took a leap of faith and applied anyway. I got in, and I was on my way to college. I thought college would be like an extension of high school, but I was wrong. Fortunately, I had the support of Capital IDEA, most of all, I was glad I had James, my Career Navigator. He was there when I needed to talk. It was like I had an extended family.
I had to learn how to use my time wisely, especially when I took the Career ACCelerator route, which allowed me to go at my own pace. I ended up pushing as hard as I could, taking up to 15 credit hours in one semester. I changed my work schedule, taking on 18-hour weekend shifts, so I could be at school during the week. Because of the reduction of hours, I was hurting financially, but none of that mattered because I had a goal, and I was trying to make good on an important promise I had made to my aunt. She was sick, and doctors told us she didn’t have much time left. My promise to her was that she’d see me walk the graduation stage.
I delivered on that promise. My aunt was there when I graduated in 2017, as was my whole family. It was one of the proudest moments of my life. I was the first in my family to graduate from college. Since then, one of my cousins has followed in my footsteps. I now enjoy encouraging others to take a leap of faith to improve their lives, just like I am doing every day.
Since graduation, I have been working for LifeWorks, where I get to serve more than 200 employees on all their computer and connectivity needs. So far, I have earned four pay raises and I was voted what is like our Employee of the Month. I’m no longer struggling like I used to. It wasn’t easy to get here, but now, I find it very easy to do this job I love. I have hit some major milestones in my life, and the newest one is my little one. I have a great partner: my wife, a great motivator: my son, and a steady job that helps me enjoy what I have. As for my future, I am taking the steps to become a homeowner. I also plan to continue to sharpen my IT skills and would like to earn my Bachelor’s Degree. Whatever else comes after that, I know how to set goals and take action to reach them. Thank you Capital IDEA for giving me this second chance.