A Stepping Stone to Building Your Future
At 16, Kyle Persaud and his mother left Guyana and moved to the Bronx, New York. Shy and introverted, Kyle also had a lot of drive. His mom, who works at a café at Fordham University, sacrificed a lot to raise him on her own in a new country, and he wanted to make her proud. He worked hard to adapt to the fast pace of New York City, trying to “learn everything for two” so he could support his mom, just as she supported him.
During his junior year of high school, Kyle learned about This Way ONward and decided to sign up. He wanted to challenge himself and working in retail would force him to break out of his shell. It would also be his first real job in the U.S. – a chance to learn about working in this country and build relationships with people from different backgrounds.
At the end of the training program, he was hired at Old Navy on 125th Street in Harlem. At first, every week was a challenge, but gradually, the work felt natural. “I took my time, and whenever they had feedback for me, I took it as motivation to do better,” Kyle recalled. “Over time, I learned how to be more extroverted and talk to people.” Now, Kyle said, “I can’t stop talking. I’m a bubbly person, bringing positivity to the store.”
Today, Kyle is working at the same Old Navy store, where he has been promoted to senior lead, in charge of customer operations. In the fall of 2022, after participating in This Way ONward alumni advancement programming, he was asked to step in as acting assistant manager for his store. His shyness has been replaced with confidence. He reflected, “I have a bigger title now, but I’m still able to be me. To be in a leadership role and inspire other people – that’s my goal.”
Kyle also spent time as his store’s Community Leader, giving talks to new This Way ONward participants at the Boys & Girls Club. He always gives them the advice he once gave himself: take the risk and join the program. “This is a stepping stone to build your career and future,” he tells them. “Remember, your future is all based on what you want in life. You’re in control of your future.”