CareerWork$® Announces Kiana Williamson as the Latest Recipient of the Marc Hill Rising Star Award 

Before her involvement with BankWork$®, Kiana Williamson worked as a cashier in Whittier, California. As a single mother, she navigated the challenges of living paycheck to paycheck, often sacrificing weekends and holidays without the support of benefits. Her aspiration was to establish a career that allowed her to apply her mathematical skills, promising a brighter future for herself and her daughter. When she discovered BankWork$ at JVS SoCal, she believed it could be the ticket she was looking for. 

“The BankWork$ program taught me how to dress and speak professionally. We had mock interviews and role-played to provide the best customer experience,” said Kiana. Earlier this year, she graduated from BankWork$, marking a deeply personal achievement she hadn’t experienced before. She invited her family, including her father, who was especially proud to see her graduate. 

Jynelle Sumera, Kiana’s instructor, witnessed her incredible growth throughout BankWork$. In Jynelle’s words, “This past year, Kiana decided she wanted more for herself and her daughter. At the beginning of the program, Kiana was reserved, shy, and often second-guessed herself. However, something inside Kiana shifted after the initial weeks. She fully embraced the program’s teachings, showing up early for class, dressed professionally, and always prepared. Her voice grew louder, and her confidence soared. She not only participated actively but excelled in class, becoming the next-level version of herself. Kiana’s transformation served as an inspiration to all of us.” 

Kiana reflects on Jynelle as a compassionate instructor. “She has changed my life in so many ways by providing me ongoing support in the most uncomfortable situations,” said Kiana.  She was not just an instructor to me; Jynelle is a mentor and a friend who pushed me through this process even when I was experiencing personal challenges. Because of Jynelle’s support, I am a much more confident person.” 

Today, Kiana works full-time at Banc of California, where her goals are to continue to learn and grow while she has found the work-life balance and economic independence that she and her daughter deserve. 

Kiana was recently surprised with her celebration ceremony for winning the Marc Hill Rising Star Award, where she was joined by her former instructors, her team at Banc of California, and the entire CareerWork$ team.

The Marc Hill Rising Star Award recognizes a graduate of our BankWork$ or CareerWork$ Medical® programs each quarter who has shown significant personal growth and transformation from the start of their class until their graduation. Each award recipient receives a certificate and a cash award to enhance the start of their new career. 

The award is an integral part of CareerWork$’s ongoing effort to create pathways to meaningful careers. It also honors the life, work, and legacy of the late Marc Hill, who was an instructor for both the BankWork$ and CareerWork$ Ready programs at YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish. Marc passed away in late 2020, but the lessons he shared with his students epitomize our organizational values: respect, collaboration, equity, and inclusion. 

Learn more about The Marc Hill Rising Star Award.

From BankWork$ Graduate to Branch Manager: Joselyn Cuevas’ Journey in Financial Services

Joselyn Cuevas’s financial services journey began with her graduation from BankWork$® at JVS SoCal in 2017. Since then, she has worked her way up to become a Branch Manager at Bank of the West, now BMO Bank. This summer, Joselyn was featured in a BankWork$ promotion on bus benches around Los Angeles. Check out this video to hear in her own words what BankWork$ has meant to her. 

“BankWork$ has given a person like me the opportunity to succeed. I didn’t just change my life; I changed my team’s lives. My hope is that there are many stories like mine in the future,” said Joselyn. 

From all of us at CareerWork$, congratulations on your success, Joselyn! 

Learn more about BankWork$ and JVS SoCal here: 

Turning the Page: Patrick Burke’s Journey from Odd Jobs to Banking 

Patrick Burke’s career journey had been a winding path. Bouncing from job to job to make ends meet, he went from working at a pet fulfillment center to becoming a commercial driver and later a warehouse manager. In January 2023, he stumbled upon an online ad for the BankWork$ Fundamentals program. Although Patrick was intrigued by the idea of working at a bank, he was worried about who would be willing to train him at his age. However, after a personal phone call from instructor Tanya Bashor, he was convinced to take a chance on the program. 

With no prior knowledge of the financial services industry, Patrick was concerned about learning the ins and outs of banking. “Before this class, I had never owned a professional outfit, and I’m thankful this class taught me how to dress professionally and present myself in an interview,” said Patrick. “I was nervous but excited. I had to learn various banking terms and processes, which felt overwhelming at first. But I persevered, and slowly, things started making sense. Banking was a new world for me, but I was able to find connections to all of my previous experiences, especially in customer service.” 

Tanya Bashor, Patrick’s instructor, spoke highly of him, noting his remarkable determination throughout the application process. “Patrick was very communicative about his concerns, but he always approached it with a growth mindset. He knew that this change in his career could positively impact his earning capacity in the future and set him on a path to a new career,” said Tanya. 

After graduating from BankWork$ Fundamentals in June 2023, Patrick was hired by First Commonwealth Bank and began his new role as a Financial Solutions Specialist in July. He shared, “When I started handling transactions, I could recall lessons I learned from class. On days when I’m not busy, I always try to learn something new. There have been a couple of times when I’m sitting in the bank, looking out the window, where I wish I had found such an opportunity earlier in my career because I appreciate the stability and respect that come with this role. I’m a single dad with custody of my kids, and they’ve been able to witness my journey and feel proud of my accomplishments. They got to see me go through the program, and I’m so much happier knowing I made the right choice.” 

When asked for advice for someone in a similar situation, Patrick emphasized the importance of making a list of career options and realistically evaluating each one. He recommended the BankWork$ Fundamentals program as an excellent entry point into the banking industry, highlighting the potential for growth and job security. 

Learn more about BankWork$ Fundamentals.