After Nelida Hernandez graduated from Pritzker College Prep in 2014, she wasn’t sure what the next step in her education would be. Then, she saw an ad touting “a year to a career” and was introduced to the partnership between Harold Washington College and Year Up, Chicago’s premiere workforce development program. She was accepted to the program and took classes at Harold Washington College in the Loop, then had an internship at JPMorgan Chase where she got hands on experience in banking and technology project management.

“The partnership between Harold Washington College and Year Up helped me take what I learned in the classroom and apply it to an internship with one of the best banks in the country, “ Nelida said.

She graduated from Harold Washington College in the summer of 2018 with an Associate in Arts in Communications, having already earned a Basic Certificate in Computer Information Systems. Now, she is working full-time at JPMorgan Chase as an operations technician while she continues to take math classes at Malcolm X College that both help her in her current position and will transfer to UIC – where she plans to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science.

While not necessarily traditional, she thinks her academic path has been the best choice for her, and encourages others to look at different opportunities that can help students earn a degree.

“I found an opportunity that allowed me to take classes for free, keeping me out of debt while I earned my degree, with flexible classes that I could take around my work schedule – it was a huge advantage in both my education and in my career.”

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