Training Futures Graduates Shine Light on Dedication and Diversity

Trainees reflect on stories of struggle and how they discovered hope and opportunity through NVFS’ Training Futures program

In September 2017, 35 trainees embarked on a journey that would ultimately change their lives. One that would take them from feelings of uncertainty to feelings of security, from jobs where they were barely earning a living wage to stable careers where they earned twice the pay than before, from moments of feeling isolated to being surrounded by dozens of individuals from multiple countries and different walks of life, but who shared a common goal – to achieve professional success and build better lives.

NVFS’ Training Futures program is a nationally recognized workforce development program training individuals for obtaining living-wage office careers upon graduation, and on Feb. 9, 2018, Northern Virginia welcomed 35 trainees ready and willing to contribute to our thriving community.

Training Futures alumna and emcee Hana Tsiege said, “Training Futures prepares you to join the professional world. Because of Training Futures, I feel professional like I always knew I was . I’m adding value to the community.”

And she is.

Upon graduating from Training Futures in 2017, Tsiege accepted a position with TD Bank as a Customer Service Representative II, earning 50 percent more than she had before she applied for Training Futures.

TD Bank’s Retail Market Manager John Ashkar said, “For TD Bank to partner with NVFS’ Training Futures, we’ve been able to hire some people into key, critical roles within the region, and we’ve been able to create a bit of a pipeline of talent based on how well NVFS trains its trainees. I am a big believer in the Training Futures program. I love it, and it’s helped the Northern Virginia region out a lot.”

Not only is Training Futures generating opportunities to those seeking professional careers, but the talent the program is producing is helping out our community as well.

The majority of trainees who apply for Training Futures have come to the United States in search of brighter futures only to discover their degrees and credentials from their home countries don’t transfer.

“I left my home country in 2007,” noted graduate Neelab Haidari, who obtained a bachelor’s degree in education in Afghanistan. “[Training Futures] helped me pave the way to go forward and dream big.”

Training Futures also works with individuals who have taken a brief leave from the workforce. Jessica Lee decided that, after being a stay-at-home mom for 16 years, she was ready to cultivate her career.

“I needed to prepare myself for a professional career,” said Lee. “When I got the admission call from Training Futures, I almost shouted!”

Lee shared her experience with Training Futures and her excitement about learning something new every day. She also remarked on the commitment of not only Training Futures staff, but her fellow cohort stating that rain or shine, they showed up to learn.

“I hope to come back one day and share my story,” concluded Lee. “[Training Futures staff] will be my role models for the rest of my life.”

As each trainee walked across the front of the auditorium to receive his or her certificate, you could feel the pride with each step taken, and although the audience held for applause, the internal cheering was filling the room to the brim.

After each graduate had his or her certificate in hand, two additional awards for leadership and community partnership were presented.

The Graduate Leadership Award, which exemplifies knowledge, organization, communication, fairness, compassion and vision, went to graduate Victoria Slaughter, who was chosen by the cohort for exhibiting all of these qualities throughout the 575 hours of training this past cycle.

The Community Partnership Award went to a group of dedicated volunteers who spent a total of 547 hours leading workshops on accent reduction, resume writing, hosting Speaker’s Club to assist trainees in practicing public speaking and more to ensure the trainees were equipped, confident and ready for the workforce upon graduation.

This award, accepted by all volunteers, was topped off with enthusiastic and heartfelt thank yous in more than 12 native languages represented between the 35 trainees who, in total, spoke more than 20 different languages. It was a tearful moment that drew applause throughout the room.

Susan Bollerer, a Community Partnership Award winner, stated, “Thank you, trainees, for making our lives brighter than before we met you.”

And to that we say thank you, trainees, for making Northern Virginia even brighter, too. Congratulations on your achievement.


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