For over a decade, LaShawn Marshall struggled to find a job. Her troubles began with an injury she suffered while working as a Nursing Assistant, which led to a doctor’s prescription for painkillers, an addiction, and ultimately, a felony conviction. “It’s been a struggle for me,” said LaShawn about her many attempts to find work. “I would have good interviews, but they would never call back once they did a background check.”
Originally from New York, LaShawn is a single mom of a 16-year-old son and she has lived in the Triangle for the last 20 years. During a visit to Carolina Outreach in 2016, a therapist recommended she look into StepUp Durham. LaShawn checked out their website and signed up for an employment workshop. She immediately benefitted from the skills she learned, including how to interview and write strong cover letters and résumés. “I learned a lot about how to properly write those things,” said LaShawn.
Even though StepUp improved LaShawn’s employment materials and interviewing skills, finding a job was still a difficult process. “There were a lot of days I would go into StepUp and feel so sad and discouraged, but they kept me up,” said LaShawn. Even during these hard times, she continued to attend classes and ask for help. One of the best things about StepUp, according to LaShawn, is their network of supporters: “They have a lot of connections. If they can’t help you, they have other people who can help you.”
LaShawn’s hard work paid off when she was hired as a Human Resources Assistant in the W.G. Pearson Dining Hall at North Carolina Central University. In her permanent position, LaShawn processes payroll, conducts interviews, and gives orientations. She just celebrated 90 days of employment and believes she owes this accomplishment to the StepUp program she attended. LaShawn recommends that anyone struggling to find work consider enrolling in the program. Ultimately, it was more than just the skills LaShawn gained that got her a good and steady job. “StepUp has so much to offer,” LaShawn said. “They keep you uplifted and encouraged.”
Written by Dr. Julie Nelson, Assistant Professor
Department of Language and Literature at NCCU
StepUp Durham Volunteer