Phase I Graduation day featuring (from left) Ron Browning, LaDonna Riggins, Diana Komarnycky, and April McCoy.

  Diana Komarnycky, STEP Cycle 23 Graduate, is the type of person that some people may underestimate.  I think it’s entirely possible that Diana even had a history of underestimating herself.  She had attempted STEP before in the past, but had only signed up in order to get a resume. Her heart really wasn’t in it and her mind wasn’t particularly open to the full curriculum.  Quite some time later, Diana had lost her job. She came into United Against Poverty, and like so many others, spoke with Ms. Ida.  Ida ended up convincing Diana to give STEP another try and to make a real effort to absorb the benefits of the program.  A bit weary, but Diana accepted. “Something this time around just had a different feel from my first attempt a few years ago.  The first day really peaked my curiosity and it had encouraged me to come back,” she said when speaking about how STEP this time really helped her.  In particular, Diana really seemed to enjoy and benefit from Ms. LaDonna Riggins’ facilitation of Emotional Intelligence.  Diana also became fully engaged during the workshops and lectures with guest speakers, she says “I learned that I was able to open different types of accounts with different banks in effort to make my money work for me. I never in a million years would have sought out that type of knowledge, but now that I have it, it really helps me with my different financial goals.” Diana was so successful during this STEP cycle that she was named the Rising Star of her class and was even one of the speakers regarding what STEP meant to her.  I can tell you, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  Watching Diana flourish from a shy and minimally engaged participant to someone who spoke in front of the entire graduating class has truly been a complete joy.  She spoke with such confidence, incredible delivery (of course she had everyone laughing, as Diana is known to do), and geniune heart. Diana recently sat down with me to tell me a bit about her experience since STEP. “After graduation I had several interviews lined up and knew that I had to sell myself as an employee. I have always been a great sales person, I could sell you a Christmas tree in July! Having that experience, I felt confident in this aspect. However, what Ron taught me was more than just selling myself, was making connections to the company and understanding how to navigate some of the more difficult aspects of the job interview. Interviews aren’t just about selling yourself, there are steps included. The introduction, the personal/professional brand, talking about my education and professional history, my skills, and the ability to let the discussion flow a little more naturally. I was able to secure a seasonal job with IMG Citrus has a forklift operator and am working full time.  I am working towards my financial goals that I set up with my success coach and am currently exceeding them.  STEP not only helped me to get a job and get over the 200% of the Federal Poverty Level, but you (as my success coach) are still helping me to meet my career goals, which I appreciate a lot.” 

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