Wednesday, March 18, 2015

"We are LA Fellows Because We Act on our Dreams."

On Friday, March 13th, the LA Fellows program celebrated the graduation of its 11th Cohort (class) of job-seeking professionals. Two individuals from the class represented their Cohort by speaking in the ceremony. The first speaker was Fred Johnson, who agreed to let us post a transcript of his heartfelt and inspiring speech: 

To Los Angeles Valley College President, Job Training Staff and Advisory Board, Mr. Lennie Ciufo, our awesome and dynamic job training leaders - Allison and Mary, to the WorkSource Centers who have generously funded the LA Fellows program, particularly Anthony Rodriguez and Candis Noel with the West Hollywood WorkSource Center who believed enough in me to fund my position within the LA Fellows, and to our nonprofit partners who have given us opportunities to volunteer within your organizations to regain our confidence, pride, and  job skills, and to our families and friends whose support have played an instrumental part in us being here - THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
I am Fred Jackson and I am proud to be a Cohort 11 LA Fellow and honored to speak on behalf of my Cohort.
On January 2nd, a diverse, motley crew of individuals came together to listen to Allison and Mary give us an orientation on the transformative journey that we were getting ready to embark upon. Little did we know what we had signed up for…
In our own different ways, we were all scarred, frustrated and depressed with the internet suck of job searching and sending our resumes into corporate electronic black holes and then being further pulled down by the repeated defeat and rejection of not being fully productive and gainfully employed.  So each of us decided to commit to the LA Fellows Program, challenging us to focus our job search efforts and to move beyond our comfort zones, shedding layers of negativity.
Over the next nine weeks, we learned from our incredible and dedicated program instructors – Andrea, Doug, Keri, Kim, Jim, Larry, Lynnette, Roberto and Sam how to assess the psychological and practical aspects of our career transition. We learned to develop an action plan and how to tackle opportunities with structured and focused approaches detailing our strengths, areas of expertise, interests, and values to uncover the hidden job market.
We studied how to rethink our thinking and change our brains, how to control our fears with emotional intelligence, and how to improve our resumes with SOAR stories - highlighting our expertise, the problems we have solved, and outlining our transferrable skills.
“Can you walk me through your resume?” or, “Can you tell me about yourself?” were the painful interview questions we learned how to tackle along with developing an elevator speech that will captivate an audiences within 90 seconds or less.
We were taught to have a personal brand always and consistently showcasing our unique qualities and being able to back it up with proof statements and in a changing world, we learned how to embrace change when someone moves our cheese.
We also studied the growing world of nonprofits involved in everything from health care, education, the arts and culture, and so much more! Through our volunteering at nonprofits, not only are we being re-engaged back into the working world, but we are making a difference and impacting the lives of burned children, developing parks and open space in economically disadvantaged communities, helping sick kids fight their illness, and much more at the various nonprofits where my cohorts are volunteering.
While improving our job search strategies and interviewing skills, we learned so much more about one another: who were the direct, task oriented Eagles, the wise, systematic Owls, the spirited Roadrunners, or the considerate Doves.
I could continue for nine more weeks talking about all we learned in the LA Fellows Program, However, today is the graduation for Cohort 11, so to Cohort and friends ….
Alan: I’ve witnessed you wrestle with your employment gap and I know that you will return to the Healthcare Industry as the trainer and leader that you are.
Brian: You’re Dr. Scientist and nothing can stop you because you are the “Master of your fate and the Captain of your soul.”
Justin: You are the teacher/leader that any employer would want and the Foundation for Pierce College is lucky to have you as a volunteer.
Gus: Move out of your way, trust and embrace your gifts. That is the only thing stopping you. You are a brilliant and creative writer
Diane W: Cleveland is in the house! Your background maybe varied, but your skills and ability to connect with people are solid.
Ruth: You don’t know this, but you share the name and characteristics of my beloved and departed Mother. You are smart, caring, passionate, creative, and talented! And the job you seek is just a few connections away.
Jen: You’re focused, funny and know what you want. Get ready grant writing world, Jen is coming and she is serious.
Ava: Ms. Diet Coke, you have the knowledge, connections and leadership skills that will see you involved in policy work real soon.
Parvene:  You have co-owned and lead an award winning marketing firm for years. Winning is second nature to you and you will make a successful career transition.
Carol: You were the first Cohort that I met.  You are incredibly smart and moved to LA to be close to your children. It was only a matter of time before you were discovered in LA and now you are employed.
Denise:  You have walked with kings but kept the common touch as an airline executive. You have the emotional intelligence we all want in a leader.
Frank: You were taught to always do things right the first time. You got it right and now you’re employed as a Vice President of a bank.
Barbara: Once you land a teaching job with a Community College, let me know because I want to take any class you teach! You’re an empathetic instructor willing to go the extra mile to help your students achieve their “aha” moments.
Dianne M: Tenacious D, our Eagle, there is no denying you are a New Yorker and a natural leader and the executive position you deserve is looking for you.
Haisela:  Our prayers are with you. You walk quietly but carry a big stick! Teaching is in your blood.
Richard: You’re young, smart and gifted. The world is yours, go and conquer it!
Alex: My fellow Dove, you are smart, considerate, passionate, and creative. Don’t second guess yourself because the creative job you seek is just around the corner.
Bismark: You are smart, understanding, and a motivational leader and manager that I want running my team because you won’t let the ship sink.  
Erica: The once quiet, shy girl has said left the building. You have made tremendous strides and Shonda Rhimes better snatch you up while she can afford you. You will be an extraordinary writer, just believe in yourself!
Peter: You’re a smart, gifted and talented attorney. “Fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of a distance run.”
Paul: Don’t worry about the crutches, pun intended, they get in the way of employers seeing you stand with your skills, experiences, and background leading teams and managing a portfolio of buildings.
Nancy: Our Oklahoma Attorney who has the fortitude and will to “Hold on” and will soon be employed again.
Thor: Our Thunder God of Wealth! With the name Thor Gold, you are destined for greatness and you are the “Bright Shiny Penny” of our Cohort.
Valerie: You’re the powerful superhero that became employed first among our Cohort. You showed us how having drive, dedication, and a zeal for learning pays off.  
Bill: You struggled mightily with change, but ultimately you did it and are now employed.
Mark: You are confident, methodical, driven and employed! You are being all that you can be and thank you for serving our Country!
And last but not least,
Regina:  You’re thoughtful and resourceful with so many talents. Continue being who you are, because you’re fantastic and the job you desire will soon be yours!
In closing, no one can go back and make a brand new start, but everyone can start from now and make a brand new ending. We came to LA Fellows with our individual issues and baggage, but we are leaving and graduating uplifted, confident, prepared, and optimistic about our future.

We are LA Fellows because we are armed with tactics, higher self-esteem, and we have each other. We are LA Fellows because we plan and believe in ourselves. We are LA Fellows because we act on our dreams. We are LA Fellows because we will be employed and accomplish great things!
And, I thank you.

Fred Jackson is a Real Estate Development and Asset Management professional. He is currently volunteering with the Trust for Public Land, completing a 100 hour project to develop an opportunities report and working in park/open space development.

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