Brooklyn resident Raymond Morel, 20, is a graduate of Gap Inc.’s This Way Ahead—a job-training and internship program—and was recently asked to join Bobbi Silten, senior vice president, Global Responsibility at Gap Inc. and president of Gap Foundation, and two other grads at this week’s White House Summit on Community Solutions. He shares his experience here:
It was much more than just a job training program.
When I came across a flyer for “This Way Ahead” at school, I thought I’d check it out with a friend of mine because it looked like an opportunity and a shot at a job.
I had no idea that opportunity would someday lead me all the way to the White House! Thanks to my connection to the program and the success I’ve had since, I was asked to introduce U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis at the White House Summit on Community Solutions this week.
Taking part in such an important event really made me step back and realize how far I’ve come based on that one decision to see an opportunity through. This Way Ahead, along with the job coaches from The Door, was an essential part of my personal growth. It just motivated me to become a better person and outgrow the obstacles that were in my way. It also gave me the confidence to meet people and become more socially active. When I finished the program I was hired at the Gap 1969 SoHo store where I became a “denim expert” before moving on—and I was definitely ready to go out there and do my thing.
Today I’m pursuing my bachelor’s degree in business management at Staten Island College while working at the New York City Department of Education. I work in a high school where I now get to be the mentor to students and it’s pretty much pushing them to be successful and not just another statistic. And of all the things I’ve learned, I realize it really comes down to having the right tools and that extra push. For me that extra push was This Way Ahead and I’ll always be thankful for it.