One of the first things you’ll notice about Jose is his smile. He radiates good vibes. Jose lives life to the fullest and takes advantage of every opportunity put in front of him. When we asked him to reflect on a valuable life lesson learned from stepping up to present at a recent board meeting, he commented, “Something so valuable to me is becoming an opportunist, it feels great to know people are actively working on opening doors for me specifically. Even if it was something like presenting to the board, which I would have never imagined I would do – it actually opened so many doors for me to grow professionally. I now feel that people are genuinely good and helpful, and I can chase after these opportunities.”

Below is a written version of his speech he presented to our board in early February.

“With little to no inspiration from the school district system to further my education, I did not expect to see myself graduating high school six months earlier than I was supposed to. Not to mention being accepted and completing the Unite LAs CleanTech internship program and submitting resumes to job opportunities in fields I didn’t even know existed.

Hello, my name is Jose Figueroa and I had a fixed mindset. Thinking just because I’m part of a family with a successful family business, I had it all set up for me. I’d like to speak today about how that mindset has changed through personal growth and Sharefest intervention.

I come from the lower-end city of San Pedro where opportunities don’t come around very often. If your family isn’t part of the Port you have it rough, which my family isn’t. Growing up I didn’t have much inspiration from the people around me to be successful. I couldn’t see past what was already here.

I was ignorant of guidance or I guess you can call it “help”, because where I come from there isn’t much of it. When I hit high school around 10th grade I was barely staying afloat, barely meeting C’s on my report card. Then COVID-19 came around and made it worse than it already was. I had no motivation to continue.

When the quarantine was lifted and they allowed us back in school I realized I was way too far behind in school credits to go back to a regular high school setting. I decided to go to an option high school called Angels Gate. That was when I crossed paths with Ms.Phonnyta. Little did I know at that first glance, she would have a big impact on my life. As the student alumni program that Sharefest offers at Angels Gate developed, I took an interest and participated. What intrigued me most was the transparency and forwardness the mentors had as well as the words of motivation they gave to us students. I began attending the Sharefest presentations and workshops. One of them being specifically geared toward improving my first-ever resume. Ms. Phonnyta helped me format my resume, improve written verbiage, and highlight skills I may not have seen in myself at the time. After completing that draft, I was able to use it to acquire my first job!

Since meeting Ms. Phonnyta and getting to know the rest of the Sharefest team, I’ve been inspired and grown fond of improving myself in all aspects. I started attending support check meetings with Ms. Liberty and taking part in job searches as well. This has helped me greatly to the point where I’m feeling comfortable doing these things independently, which is something at one time I never thought would be possible.”

Thank you Jose for sharing your story with us. We love watching you navigate new potential opportunities and gaining insight into the direction you want to go. You are making the all the right moves, keep going!

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