More Than What’s On Paper: How Gaining Independence Created A Pathway To Success

At the age of 16, I was legally emancipated.

I come from a family of 6 and was raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Being a part of such a big family was never easy, especially considering the circumstances that we faced. My siblings and I were witnesses to my parents’ tumultuous relationship and, as the years went by, things only got worse. I was forced to become strong and independent. At the age of 13, I started taking care of my younger brother. I got him clothed, made his breakfast, and put him on the bus to school in the mornings, often without an adult present for support or guidance. Because of these added duties, I was often late for school. I was late a few too many times, and I failed my freshmen year of high school. I knew if I wanted to be successful in life I couldn't remain in the same negative environment. So I moved out of my childhood home seeking to create a better life for myself.

Being emancipated meant I was, legally, an adult. I had to find my own healthcare, work to maintain my financial well-being, and be fully in control and responsible for my actions. I worked long hours in the evenings, managed to stay involved in the community, and participated in extra-curricular activities at school. At the end of the day, I was drained and it was hard getting up to go to school in the mornings. But I could neither fail nor give up. I persevered and graduated from Hope Academy of West Michigan with my high school diploma. I wanted to continue on to college, but I didn’t have my parents, or anyone for that matter, to help me with financial aid. Nonetheless, I would not let this deter me. I researched free education programs and scholarship opportunities and came across a youth training program called Year Up. After doing extensive research on the program, I decided to apply.
Harmoniah Carter
There was just one small problem; the program was in Atlanta, and at the time I still lived in Grand Rapids. Determined to place myself in the best position for opportunity, I wasn’t going to let a little something like distance stand in my way. Confident that I would be able gain admittance, I took the risk. I developed a 6-month plan to move from Michigan to Georgia. It was a very strenuous and stressful experience, but I was ultimately able to secure work and housing in Atlanta. I was accepted into Year Up’s Technology Program not too long after and began classes in the Fall of 2014. During the same time, I also started a new job and moved into my new apartment. I knew I was stepping out on a huge leap of faith, but it was necessary if I were ever to have any chance of reaching my goals.

During my time with Year Up, I refined my leadership skills and built strong relationships. After graduating, I put what I learned into action and eventually found employment as a full-time teller for JP Morgan Chase. I loved working on a team, interacting with the customers, and exceeding our daily goals. I found myself drawn to the technological side of the financial industry and, after a year with JP Morgan, I accepted an opportunity at Worldpay, a global leader in field of modern banking and credit card processing.

I started at Worldpay as a Blended Support Specialist. In my free time, I took online job training courses and actually gained a better understanding of the payment processing industry and technology sector as a whole. After a year and a half in the role, I was promoted to Senior Support Specialist.

It’s been three years since I joined Worldpay and I continue to actively seek out new opportunities to develop myself professionally. I am currently taking courses through Udacity, a higher education platform that offers online courses in technology, coding, and web development. Through Udacity, I am learning new skills that will help me advance in the technology industry. Moving forward, I want to continue enhancing my technical skills, building out a strong professional network, and furthering my pursuit of higher learning; I hope that my story reaches other young adults in the hopes that it may inspire them to use their life experiences in constructing their own personal pathways to success.

Harmoniah Carter is Senior Solutions Specialist at Worldpay.

The average employer spends seven seconds reviewing a resume, often screening out young adults like Harmoniah Carter. Please visit to learn more about an available pool of talented young adults that you may be missing out on.

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