Danilo Andrade, Northern Virginia 2019

Before Urban Alliance, Danilo “Dan” Andrade worked at a car wash, freezing in the winter and sweltering in the summer. But he thought that was the only kind of opportunity available to him. “At my age,” he said, “that’s what I saw. But when Urban Alliance said, “oh, no, these are the opportunities we can provide to you,” that really opened my eyes.”

Dan was thrilled to be given an opportunity to work for Hilton, but still worried he didn’t belong. “I didn’t think I was qualified at first,” he said. “I didn’t think I could meet the expectations that were set on the table for me.”

Despite his nerves and shyness, Dan threw himself into his work, helped along by a mentor who trusted in his ability and gave him challenging projects and ample opportunities to show his teammates what he could do. “That was the best feeling in the world,” he said. “She let me do it. She believed in me. She wouldn’t give me a task I didn’t know how to do or couldn’t complete.” By the end of the internship, Dan was even working shifts as a supervisor. “I was really surprised. Wow, me at my age, being a supervisor over the housekeepers who are 30 or 40 years older than me. To me, that was such a great opportunity.”

By the summer, Dan knew that he had found his calling in hospitality and dreams of rising through the ranks to become a general manager one day. For now, he is working on a degree in hospitality management at Northern Virginia Community College, and credits Urban Alliance with helping him get there. “I’m a first generation college student, so I honestly had no idea what I was doing,” he said. “They guided us through the process of applying to different colleges, scholarships. They really helped us out through all the problems.”

Dan is excited to have found his path. “Without this have this opportunity, I really don’t know what I’d be doing,” he said. “I wouldn’t have set my goals so high if it wasn’t for Urban Alliance and what they’ve done for me … For the people who are just not there yet and need a little push, Urban Alliance is that program for that person. I was that person that needed a little push and they pushed me really far. They opened the door and I ran through it.”