Debby Jaldin, Northern Virginia 2018

When Debby Jaldin and her mother used to pass by Virginia Tech’s campus, they would joke about how she wanted to go there one day. That day came sooner than either of them anticipated.

Debby joined Urban Alliance during her senior year of high school and was placed in her first professional internship…at Virginia Tech! “I always had that as a goal, but I never saw how to get there,” Debby said of ending up at Virginia Tech, “Both of us couldn’t believe it. We literally had to wait until the first day of my internship for her to believe that I was actually interning there … It was so unreal to wish for something and actually get it accomplished.”

Debby jumped right in at her new job and was given increasing levels of responsibility as she impressed her coworkers with her diligence and infectiously positive attitude. She also grew more confident in her ability to work in an office setting seeing how welcoming her coworkers were to her, and meeting coworkers who looked like her.

“To see minorities like me – Hispanic, Black, Asian – in an office, it just feels welcoming,” Debby said. Urban Alliance helped her to “learn what I want for myself. Now I know that I don’t want to work anywhere that’s not office-related … I know what my skills are worth.”

“Urban Alliance basically cleared my mind and made me a whole different person than who I was before. It really made me mature,” Debby added. “Once I started my internship, I had adult responsibilities, which really helped me because I needed that … Urban Alliance helped me become an adult.”

Debby’s coworkers were ultimately so impressed with her that they not only wrote multiple recommendations for her college applications, they also hired her on to continue working while she attends college through the Northern Virginia Community College Pathway to the Baccalaureate program which increases access to 4-year degrees for students from under-represented communities by lessening financial and bureaucratic barriers. Debby plans to transfer to Virginia Tech to study social work so that she can one day help to guide students like her who have a dream but don’t know how to make it a reality.