- Employer Success Stories
- Youth (WIOA)
Sonia Acosta, Youth Advocate with the WIA Youth Program operated by Employment & Training Design’s, Inc., met Alocka Pulley in March of 2013. Alocka had come to the Highland Park MichiganWorks! One Stop Service Center in the midst of many obstacles to success. Alocka, then 19 years old, had become a parent at age fifteen and was unemployed with no clear path in place towards the future. Sonia’s heart immediately went out to her.
Sonia and Alocka got to know one another through the course of several meetings. Sonia quickly realized that Alocka had already overcome so much in her school and family life, finishing high school despite the challenges presented by being a young mother. Sonia was impressed by Alocka’s determination and her realization that she needed to find a way to make a better life for herself and her daughter. As far as Alocka was concerned, giving up was not an option – she just need a little assistance in identifying a path to future success.
As their weekly meetings continued, Sonia listened to Alocka’s fears, hopes, dreams, and struggles and helped her to cope with her hardships. It was then Sonia made the decision to challenge Alocka to put her entire heart into the youth program and make program work for her. Sonia emphasized that, while she was here to help with the process, it was up to Alocka to search within herself to determine her next step in life. Sonia administered some career exploration assessments and provided her with resources for single parents. Meanwhile, in the time that followed, Alocka took Sonia’s advice to heart and it didn’t take long for her to start shining. Or, as Sonia puts it, “things started to happen”.
Sonia saw the spark growing in Alocka and could see changes happening before her eyes. Alocka always had a passion for the medical field and so she worked hard with Sonia to get enrolled in a Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) class, which she loved, and they kept in close contact throughout the entire class. Sonia remarks, “I had to let her know she was not alone and she had me to count on. I would go to the school just to let her know I was there for her whenever she needed me.” Alocka completed the class on May 29, 2013 and was one step closer to her dreams of working in the medical field. She ran into a bit of a snag when she took the State certification exam, passing the written portion but not the clinical portion. However, she eventually retested in February of 2014 and passed both sections with no trouble at all!
In between the time it took to brush up and retest for her CNA exam, Alocka was aware that her next step was to find employment – ideally something that would allow her to provide a safe and happy environment for herself and her daughter. She was thrilled when Sonia was able to include her in an application opportunity with Ford Motor Company. Alocka eagerly applied for the job and was called in for a testing date. She attended and felt great about her chances but was disappointed when she did not receive a follow-up call from Ford. It was here that Sonia became certain that the time she spent working with Alocka for the past year had really paid off. “In the past,” she remarks, “that kind of disappointment might have ruined Alocka. But this time was different; it was like water off a duck’s back. She was ultimately fine with [not receiving the call] and we continued to work together on her job search.” That effort paid off on July 1, 2013 when Alocka was hired at Subway. After only two months working as a Sandwich Artist, Alocka was promoted to Shift Manager. She then respectfully declined a subsequent promotion to manage her own store due to pending educational obligations and a lack of reliable transportation to get to and from the new location. Subway, knowing that they have a quality employee, is fine with that decision. Sonia spoke with Alocka’s manager, Betty Rippy, and was told that, “Alocka has a good head on her shoulders and she has impressed everyone at her store with her warm and friendly attitude.”
Ms. Rippy believes that Alocka can go far in the business and possibly open her own store one day. However, Sonia doesn’t think that opening a Subway store is in Alocka’s near future because Alocka has been accepted at, and completed enrollment with, Wayne State University to major in gynecology and obstetrics! Alocka’s says, “My goal is to help mothers with the birth of their children and assist with complications they might have before, during, and after childbirth.” For her part, Sonia is confident that Alocka Pulley will be successful in her life and in her budding career, one day being known to all as Dr. Pulley. Sonia smiles as she recalls a phrase that Alocka had taken to using as they started working closely together on her goals, “I’ll keep it moving.” You keep it moving Alocka – straight down the path to success!