Shelly Sam left Phoenix Job Corps with a high school diploma, a job at CVS Healthcare and an overall fresh start on life.
The 20-year-old entered PJCC in the Computer Tech A+ program on February 13, 2018 and left in August 2018.
“I went in with the mentality that I’m going to do better for myself,” said Sam. “I’m going to compete. I got my high school diploma which is something I never really thought I could see myself getting that quick. I always thought I’d get a GED and call it a day.”
Prior to Job Corps, Sam was working 50 hours a week at two jobs: at the gift store at Cracker Barrel in Mesa and at Big Lots.
After her mother died when she was 9-years-old, Sam went to live with her grandmother along with her three siblings. Sam dropped out of high school to work because her family needed the money. Her grandmother was retired and the only income was her social security check. Sam’s dad wasn’t in the picture.
“I remember being a little kid and thinking I’m going to work,” said Sam. “I’m going to support everybody because it’s what I wanted to do.”
Eventually, Sam felt she was at a dead-end with no education to get a better paying job.
“I tried online schooling. I couldn’t do that. I had no help, no tutor and I was on my own. My family all went separate ways when I turned 18 but I stayed in Mesa. I was sleeping on the couch at one of my good friends.”
Sam stopped living with her grandmother when she was diagnosed with dementia and had to go live with another family member. Sam still sees her grandma from time-to-time.
“I really felt like I was at my lowest,” said Sam. “I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have any guidance. No adult supervision. I didn’t even know what I wanted to do but then I found out about Job Corps. It was a program I could attend and make something out of nothing. I didn’t even think about it. I just signed up. I was scared because I was going it alone.”
Sam felt like she had nothing to lose. After enrolling in Phoenix Job Corps, she moved into the dorm.
“It was a completely different change,” Sam said. “A whole new atmosphere. I think one of the people who really affected me there was my trade teacher, Mr. Veal. He was major support, not just with me but with everybody in the classroom. I was so happy I chose that trade. He made me think about what I wanted to do in the future.”
After getting her high school diploma, Sam learned from Work Based Learning Coordinator Harvey Thomas about CVS Healthcare. Sam ended up getting accepted into the training program.
“My first day at CVS Healthcare was life changing, meeting the enablement team,” she said. “The entire training process I was under their care. It was tough. Three months of no pay.” But in the end it paid off in many ways. Sam is now making $18.50 hourly.
“Every day they taught me something new,” said Sam. “They taught me how I can not only better myself in my job but who I am as a person. They really did give me hope there and they’re still doing it to this day. Just because the training is over and I’m on the floor, doing my day-to-day job, they still check up on us and they still care for us. They don’t forget about us. Jen Bruno has been an incredible help to me.”
Sam said Phoenix Job Corps gave her another chance and changed the way she saw herself.
“Job Corps has really changed my life,” Sam said. “I can’t express that enough. For the students there, you really have to focus on yourself and realize you have the ability to test your capabilities and move past everything you’ve been through. Don’t let anything hold you back or bring you down. At the end of the day it’s all about bettering yourself. Take advantage of the education.”
Sam plans to attend Mesa Community in the fall and use her education to move up in CVS.
By Business & Community Liaison Melody Birkett