Santrell is a 17-year-old New Orleans native and graduated in June 2015 from the Trafigura Work & Learn Center’s customer service class. She first heard about Youth Empowerment Project and the Work & Learn Center from staff at her high school, ReNEW Accelerated High School, saying: “there were applications for a job where you would get paid to learn, and I asked some of the students about it, and we decided it would be fun to apply.”

Santrell emphasizes that by participating in the customer service class, she not only learned the basics of successful customer service, including how to do inventory and how to operate a cash register, she also learned something about herself saying: “I found out I really liked to sell things…to listen to what the customer needed, showing them the options of what we had in stock, and sometimes suggesting other items they may need.”

Although soft-spoken by nature, Santrell has an engaging smile and personality that customers are drawn to, and the class has helped to sharpen her communication skills. Santrell says of her time at the W&L Center: “Our entire day is about talking with people, either with our co-workers, our managers, and the customers who come in the bike shop. On some days, even if I don’t feel like talking, I have learned it’s what the job is all about!”

In addition, Santrell feels she has learned important transferable skills, such as having a schedule, showing up on time, and putting in a hard day’s work, which she hopes will help her land her “dream job”—becoming a nurse, saying: “I’ve always liked helping people, and being a nurse is all about helping people with the most important thing…their health.”

In the meantime, Santrell has an interest in joining the W&L Center’s digital design class, saying: “I really enjoy social media, I spend time on Instagram and Twitter, and might want to learn more about graphic design.”

We are excited to be a part of helping Santrell learn things that will help her grow and realize her future goals!