Kalil Applewhite

In December 2017, Kalil Applewhite’s brother went out from his home in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, to cash a check so he could go Christmas shopping. He never returned. When Kalil found out his brother was shot and killed, he was devastated.

“I spent most of the next year and more doing nothing. Not working. Not helping out at home. Just sitting around in my bitterness. I was stuck in one place,” says Kalil, 22.

He and his family did not feel safe in Bed-Stuy, where they continued to witness gang violence. Eventually, his mother decided to move him and his siblings — five brothers and two sisters in all — to Yonkers.

“I felt some of the weight come off my back,” says Kalil.

His first stop was the Department of Social Services (DSS), where he sought help to get back on his feet. He needed a job but wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. He had some education and work experience under his belt: After graduating from high school, he went to Utica College on a basketball scholarship; he dropped out after one year because he felt it wasn’t a good fit. His work experience was primarily short-term/retail jobs — at Dylan’s Candy Bar, a coffee shop in Brooklyn, and at a neighborhood school.

The Yonkers DSS staff referred him to the Jobs Waiting program, where he says things started to change.

“My Jobs Waiting cohort helped build me back up,” says Kalil. “We learned that obstacles are inevitable, but they make you stronger.”

 

New Motivation

On the day Kalil was to graduate from his Jobs Waiting Tech Hire training program — May 30, 2019 — he woke at 3 am in Brooklyn, where he was visiting his two daughters, aged five months and six years old, then made the two-hour trip back to his home in Yonkers. He showered and dressed, then traveled to Westchester Community College for the final Jobs Waiting meeting and graduation ceremonies.

His motivation? He didn’t want to let down his girls, who expect his weekly visit, nor break his commitment to the Jobs Waiting program, where he’d worked hard and achieved much over the past five weeks.

“Now I’m actually getting up to work on things, and I have energy. I’m getting my confidence back,” says Kalil. “I want to be the best I can be for myself, and for my kids.”

His long-term goal is to become a pediatric anesthesiologist. He enjoys working with children, and sees potential in healthcare. With his Jobs Waiting career coaches and mentors, he has planned the steps to get there, beginning with a BOCES program in phlebotomy and a volunteer stint at St. Joseph’s Hospital, followed by an associate’s degree in nursing at Westchester Community College.

The decision to becoming a Registered Nurse was made, in part, because of some advice he received from a nurse caring for him while he was a patient in the emergency room.

“Asking questions wherever you go is something I learned from Jobs Waiting,” he says, laughing. “So I figured, I was there, I should ask about careers from the people working in the hospital.”

Taking advantage of every opportunity is a choice, adds Kalil. “I know now that I’m in control. I am the architect of my future.”

 

 

 

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