After 20 Years at Byte Back, She Has a Message for Students

Monique Looks Back at Two Decades of Inspiring Experiences with Students

Monique with co-founders Glenn Stein and Barbara Altman during their visit in June 2016.

This month I say farewell to my Byte Back colleagues and to you, our students – future IT and business professionals. This has been my second home since 1998, when I started volunteering, then I returned to serve as a Board member, and then to lead the program.

Two graduations, two years apart – 2015 to 2017.

Although you came here to learn, you have taught me so much over the last three and a half years. Sometimes our backgrounds were different, but we had a shared hope for a better future for ourselves. I’m inspired by you to:

    1. Monique speaking on a Dialogue on Diversity panel in fall 2017

      Be open to new opportunities: You have had many setbacks: you lost your job, got evicted, had health issues, suffered an injury, overcame an addiction, left an abusive relationship, and frankly you’re tired. But you heard about Byte Back, realized there must be a way through and decided to try.

    2. Persist: I saw you come back and call again after missing the last registration deadline or not passing the exam. You tried again, and you succeeded! Then you told me that your child has been very sick and you didn’t have a place to live. You pushed through that tough time so you could take care of her, and you kept coming to classes to make a better life for your family.
    3. Do whatever it takes: You had to approach your boss to change your work shift to attend classes. Then, while working your security job, you studied all night so you were prepared for class in the morning.
    4. Ask questions: You were quiet during the first days of class, then realized that you were falling behind because there was so much to learn. Eventually, you found your voice, asked questions, and found answers.
    5. Help each other: Whether it’s peer-tutoring or sharing your story, I’ve seen you reach out to others in the hallway to offer help, a listening ear, or even your snacks.
    6. Come early: I noticed you waiting for class to begin when I got into the office last week. Class starts at 9 a.m., but you were here early every day to study and practice.
    7. Just show up: I asked why you were always running in at the last minute, and you told me that you had to take three buses after your part-time job to make it to the evening class. It is the best that you can do, but you are determined to get here.

At Byte Back Winter 2017 Graduation with star graduate Demika Alston and executive director Elizabeth Lindsey.

So what’s next for me?

Rest! I’m looking forward to recharging. My heart is still here, but my gut told me it was time to explore my next adventure. Even as I’ve decided to close this door, I hope to stay connected to you and hear the great progress you’ve made since walking through Byte Back’s doors.

Let’s stay connected!

Chief Program Officer

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