Quadry: The Future Looks Bright
— Quadry's journey shows how individual potential can flourish in the face of adversity when given an opportunity.
Opportunity is often isolated between the haves and the have-nots - with those who haven’t had opportunities finding it hard to get the door of opportunity opened.
Like many who consider Charlotte home, before moving to the Queen City, Quadry grew up in Connecticut with his mother and grandmother. Having a stable support system early on helped prepare him consider pursuing college as an option. While he knew he needed to go to college and worked hard to make this reality, in high school there was not a clear focus with the end in mind or an explanation of why he was working on things. Not having exposure to college and career pathways that would be possible for him while in high-school made it hard to see the relevance of schoolwork.
Quadry worked hard at school and football, and because of his hard work and determination he secured a partial football scholarship. When he enrolled in college, this scholarship helped to make college possible, but it didn’t cover everything, so he still needed to work. While looking for job opportunities, Quadry quickly realized the importance of having connections. Jobs on campus were only for those who had the social capital and connections to get the opportunities. Even the work-study positions generally went to those who already had seen opportunities as an RA, leaving students who haven’t gotten an opportunity left out of this cycle.
While he had family support to encourage him, as a first-generation college student for the first time in his life his family support network hadn’t been in his shoes and couldn’t tell him what he needed to do to succeed. His family wanted the best for him and understood the importance of being self-reliant pushing him to get a job, but couldn’t help him get opportunities. As an exercise science major, no one told him what career paths would be available to him. It wasn’t until he talked to a teacher in an entirely different college that he realized the jobs available to him without connections would be the same jobs he could get even without the degree.
While in college, real-life changes were happening. He stopped playing football due to an injury jeopardizing his scholarship which made it hard for him to stay in school without working to support himself. Since he could no longer afford to stay in dorms, he took a break, then started commuting trying to get money so he could live. When his mother and grandmother moved to Charlotte, he was left without a local support. Then his beautiful daughter was born, his priorities and focus shifted to working to provide the best opportunities for her. After his family moved to Charlotte, he realized the value of social capital himself. His family knew his priorities had shifted to trying to find a job, so they connected him to an opportunity in Charlotte at their employer.
In college, Quadry quickly learned it is not about what you know, but who you know that can connect you to opportunity.
Days before his birthday he came down to Charlotte for the best birthday present of all: an opportunity to show his true potential. He came to Charlotte to become a Fiber Technician, but first, he had to complete two months of training. While we know middle-skill jobs are growing, this training provided a path for him to live comfortably than college. A job at the end of the tunnel was clear for the first time.
Coming to Charlotte for this job opportunity was a great start, but it was just the beginning of his success story. While he was in training, he received a stipend but it wasn’t enough for him to live on. During his time in training, he worked at furniture stores, in construction, and a few other odd jobs to make ends meet. During his time in construction as an independent contractor, he didn't know ahead of time the complicated tax structure when self-employed.
Having this exposure and opportunity in Charlotte has vastly expanded his horizon of opportunity and helped him to envision what he wants for himself in his future.
Quadry sees his future in Charlotte full of possibility: having his own business, his daughter moving to live with him and a strong and stable career in fiber-optics.
For anyone who sees themselves in Quadry's story, he advises: “Don’t let other people deter you from your dream. Listen to them and look into it for yourself. Do your research. Don't take things for granted. Look at the end jobs possible - then consider the cost of the training or college.”