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Vanessa Nunez - Genesys Works Story

June 30, 2009

If anyone had told me four years ago that I'd be here today, at the White House, I would have thought that they were just crazy... in fact, when Rafael Alvarez, the founder of Genesys Works, who is here with me today, called me on Friday to tell me I might be doing this I thought HE was crazy!

My name is Vanessa Nunez, I am 19 years old and I have been participating in a program called Genesys Works in my hometown of Houston, TX since my junior year in high school. I have just finished my freshman year in college. It is because of my experience with Genesys Works that I can tell you my story - an unusual story about hope, opportunity and change.

Being in Genesys Works has taught me about leadership, team work, technical computer skills and how to be a professional. But most importantly it has taught me that I can succeed as a professional in the corporate world... a world I never imagined I could be a part of.

At 17 my life was typical for someone growing up in my neighborhood. I went to school and babysat my little sister. I had a part time job to help my Mom pay the bills, but sometimes I wouldn't get home until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning.

My life was busy, stressed and I was so tired that I slept thru many of my classes. The classes didn't seem to have meaning in my life. Really, who cared about geometry when I could work for $6 an hour! Had I not joined Genesys my life could have been typical: minimum wage, maybe two jobs, no benefits, no vacation, no holidays off, and a lifetime of living paycheck-to-paycheck.

I didn't feel sorry for myself though - this was just the way it was.

BUT, Genesys Works changed all of that. After 8 weeks of intense training in computers, I was assigned to work at Marathon Oil as a computer technician,. All of a sudden a whole new world opened up to me. Being a professional! I had no idea I could enjoy my job so much, get holidays off.... and get paid for them!!! Going to work became so much more exciting.

The people at Marathon were always surprised how much I knew about computers - I wasn't like some typical high school kid just hanging around - I actually knew what I was doing. This was a great feeling.

My mom always taught my sisters and me to work hard. As a single mom who emigrated from Mexico, she has worked hard as a waitress, working 6 to 7 days a week, for the past 20 years. Our family has spent most birthdays and Christmas' without her because she usually has to work. It was Genesys that showed me there CAN be a different path.

I now have great optimism about where my life is going. I am in college and I'm going to finish... In fact, my goal is to increase my grades beyond a 3.0 and win a scholarship from Marathon Oil that's worth $15,000. Actually, I'm hoping that by being here today President Obama may put in a good word for me!

I'm not sure which profession I will pursue. But I do know that I want to inspire my younger sister to stay in school, stay out of trouble, and follow me to college and to a life where we can all have Christmas off and celebrate birthdays together.

Genesys Works gave me opportunity and training. It opened doors, and opened my eyes to a new world. It gave me self confidence and a new future to think about and work toward. I have just been elected President of the Genesys Alumni. I know it's not quite like being President of the United States, but I'm getting there. I'm just 19 but I think I have a lot to give to others and I know I have a lot to learn still. I'm honored to be here to tell my story, and I know that President Obama is committed to help organizations just like Genesys Works change the lives of millions of people just like me.

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