Selamawit came to the Atlanta from Eritrea in June 2013 on a diversity visa, along with her husband and four children. They quickly settled into their new life; Selamawit’s husband worked hard to ensure their self-sufficiency and she stayed at home to raise their young family. The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program makes up to 50,000 visas available annually, drawn as a lottery for individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S.
In August 2017 Selamawit heard about the IRC in Atlanta’s Jobs to Careers program through her English class. She connected with Career Development Coordinator, Aisha Johnson, and decided to enroll in the program to pursue a career in the medical field. Selamawit worked with Aisha to set goals and complete employment readiness training and—with a scholarship from IRC to cover training costs—enrolled in the Certified Nursing Assistant program at Woodruff Medical Testing and Training Center.
Selamawit reflected on going back to school, stating, “It was such a relief to be outside of my responsibilities at home and to meet new people from all over the world—Haiti, Burma, Somalia, Nigeria, Americans! It was so nice to get to know new people and learn their stories.” She shared how her initial apprehension faded with encouragement from Aisha: “I told her I didn’t have a job and she said, ‘You do, you take care of your kids!’ When I said I didn’t have any experience Aisha said, ‘Don’t worry! You can do it!’ I can never forget these words, she gave me courage.”
Aisha too remembered this conversation fondly, stating, “Selamawit was such an awesome client to watch grow. She came with an open heart to learn, but was certainly timid and nervous about exploring a new career path at first. I remember her saying, ‘I don’t know if I’m ready,’ and I told her she was probably more ready than most people after taking care of her large family! I knew she could do it and she did!”
On November 27, 2017, Selamawit successfully completed her Certified Nursing Assistant course and will soon take the state board examination. She has worked hard to accomplish her goals while raising a family, and sets an example for her children. High school senior Heran, Selamawit’s oldest daughter, is participating in Move On When Ready, a program which allows high school students to begin their college courses early. She has been by her mom’s side for much of the journey and is incredibly proud of her hard work, giving her credit for her own strong work ethic.