Four years ago, Shaniel Fuller met her church family when she was living in a shelter with her son. “They were volunteering at the shelter, and I started volunteering with them,” she shared.
During this time, Shaniel also worked in several industries, and she actively recognized that the hard-working jobs she held were not advancing her growth or personal development.
“I was doing the hustle and bustle. But, being in the workforce, it wasn’t always what I wanted it to be,” Shaniel disclosed.
“Being a Jamaican immigrant just coming to this country, especially if you have a young one like me, it takes a little time to get your feet right where you want them. I’m the breadwinner and the sole provider for my son,” she added, “And it can be difficult when it comes to taking care of your family.”
Shaniel later heard about the Professional Skills Academy through her pastor and fellowship friends. Upon reflection, Shaniel was candid about her initial impressions of the career readiness program.
“I had a full-time job, I didn’t know if the skills we would learn would be helpful in everyday life, and I just didn’t think it was possible,” Shaniel admitted.
Now a proud graduate of the PSA program, Shaniel confirms it was possible.
“I was skeptical at first, but it worked out. I really had to take my blindfold off. I was a little judgmental, but once I got into it, I’m glad I did. The workshops were helpful, and the Academy showed us how to grow personally and professionally.”
Lessons in life skills
Once Shaniel embraced the courses and learned all she could from the Professional Skills Academy, she found herself surprised at how fun and enlightening the program was.
“We would learn and laugh at the same time while having fun getting to know each other,” she recalled.
“I was going through a lot, but I knew that as soon as I logged onto my classes that it was going to be something different and engaging — it made my day some days, to be honest.”
In her time at PSA, Shaniel also recognized that she learned to be more empathetic towards coworkers while working within a team.
“Before, it was difficult for me to work with people, but I learned that my opinion isn’t always right 100% of the time — and other peoples’ way of doing things, although it may not be my way, is still okay. So, now, I try to be understanding, look inward, and say to myself, ‘you know what, I can learn from other people too.’”
“Doing this helped me put myself out there,” Shaniel acknowledged, “I didn’t know I could be this good working with my peers; it was encouraging.”
Education with impact
Among her career-focused cohort, Shaniel was one of many stand-out students.
“Shaniel was attentive, engaged in class, and always asked thought-provoking questions,” Dr. Michael Wolter described. “She was methodical and cared — consistently following up on her performance, and eager to know if she was doing things correctly.”
Likewise, Shaniel had equally high praise for her PSA professors.
“I was working while attending, and my instructors always made sure I was up-to-date on my assignments. Everyone played their part.” Shaniel appreciated.
“Dr. Michael Wolter always asked how things were going and encouraged us to take part in activities. He was always there. He knew exactly how to teach a class, and he used his personality to pull you in. If a student didn’t understand something, he would put his own spin on it. He was awesome.”
Practice opportunity becomes professional offer
While a student of the Professional Skills Academy, Shaniel was working in the healthcare field, but her conditions were not ideal.
“My paychecks would be short, and I had to check my earnings every week to make sure I was getting paid the right amount,” she stated, “It was a laid-back, toxic work environment, where I didn’t want to say anything in fear that I would lose my job.”
Concurrently, Shaniel had a virtual mock interview scheduled through PSA to assess her abilities. Coincidentally, Shaniel’s interview training was a 1:1 meeting with a recruitment coordinator for a home healthcare service.
“The interview went surprisingly well,” Shaniel smiled. “I talked a lot about myself, my personal growth, and what I want to accomplish. We even laughed in the interview, and that was really good.”
To her shock, Shaniel was awarded a position on the spot.
“It was the perfect opportunity, and I accepted the offer within a couple of days,” she confirmed.
“I’m grateful for this opportunity. Before I got this job, I struggled to pay my bills, and I worked extremely hard for everything my family has. Now, I work with different people and families, and I feel appreciated by my clients.
“With this company, I’m thankful because I’m more financially secure. My family is doing better than before, I’m getting on my feet, and I feel happy.”
Leading the way
Upon graduation, Shaniel received a certificate of completion from the Professional Skills Academy and The Department of Continuing Education from Goodwin University. She also earned Certificates of Completion in Conflict Management, Mentoring, and Team dynamics.
When asked what advice she would give to someone thinking about attending the Professional Skills Academy, “Definitely do it,” Shaniel recommended.
“You will benefit from it in a lot of different aspects. Even if you already work or go to school, the program teaches you the necessary skills to succeed. PSA allowed us to find things out about ourselves that we didn’t even know were there — I thought it was interesting and cool, and I’m applying what I learned to my everyday life.”
“The program changed my concept of how I see myself, too. I never really saw myself as a leader. But I have more faith in myself since graduating. Now, I see myself in a different light; I know that I could be a leader, and I didn’t think of myself like that before. All I want to do is take care of my family give back to my community, and I want to be successful doing it.
“I want to use the things that I’ve learned from Goodwin and in my life to better benefit my future, Shaniel expressed.
“I know I have potential, and I am ready for anything that comes my way.”
Are you an East Hartford resident interested in attending the Professional Skills Academy?
Space is limited. Apply today by calling 860.622.5507.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.