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Alumni Spotlight

As she looks back on her time in The Work Force, it’s easy for Rose Jean Charles to connect the skills she learned in the program with her current success.

Rose Jean Charles

Rose says that as a high school student, she loved attending Work Force classes and spending time in a place where she was surrounded by positive role models. “The great examples I saw around me made me a better person,” she says. A shy teenager, Rose benefited from an environment in which she could build longstanding, meaningful relationships with her peers, developing social skills she would use later at college and in the work force. “Being able to work with a small group of students for 4 to 5 years made me come out of my shell,” she says. “I got to know a lot of [other participants] and became good friends with some of them.”

Rose feels that being a part of The Work Force gave her a glimpse of what “the real world” would be like. “Being able to work and see what to expect after graduating high school/college was one of the best things,” she says. “I got to work in two different companies while I was a participant, and both were office jobs that I really liked and enjoyed.” She also thought that the Work Force gave her a head start with the college application process. “Most of my peers who were not part of The Work Force and had some type of interest in going to college were behind in getting things ready (application/visiting schools/essay writing, etc.), whereas Work Force participants got extra help from Teacher-Counselors and peers,” she says.

After graduating from high school, Rose spent a year at Pine Manor College before transferring to UMass Boston, where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Finance. While earning her degree, she continued to work at a part-time job at the Harvard University Employees Credit Union, a position she first obtained through The Work Force’s jobs program. After graduating from college, she was offered a full-time position at the Credit Union, but decided that she wanted to get more experience in a different field. She currently works as a Treasury Accountant for an engineering firm in Cambridge, and continues to take classes at a nearby university. She plans to eventually pursue a Master’s degree.

However, Rose never lost her connection to The Work Force. While in college, she returned to the program as a staff member, working as the Learning Center Coordinator at the Roosevelt Towers site. She says that her experience as a student and staff member at The Work Force have led her to believe that “working with youth is something I would love to pursue.” She is confident that her experience at The Work Force has made her a better mentor to other young people.

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