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Capital campaign officially kicks off!

Posted September 21

SER publicly announced its Pathways to Potential capital campaign with a news conference held at the site of its new... Read more...

3 SER Amigos Gala Celebration

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Posted August 9

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Sandra Swaby

In 2010, Cuba-native Sandra Swaby decided to move to the Cayman Islands to attend college and, hopefully, earn a decent wage.

“Not having residency in the Cayman Islands made it difficult to [live or work]…I knew I never wanted to move back home to Cuba,” said Sandra. “My goal was to become an accountant.”

While pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, Sandra worked as a preschool teacher assistant, but wasn’t making enough money. So Sandra took additional courses to enhance her English skills, believing they would lead to better Accounting career opportunities in the U.S. once she finished school.

“Every time I start something, it feels like something always happens and I have to move,” said Sandra.

In April 2016, Sandra learned of pending policy changes that would impact Cubans legally immigrating to the United States. Fearing her window of opportunity was closing, Sandra promptly dropped her courses and ventured to Houston before the policy went into effect.  

“I [had] never visited Houston before, but I have always heard that [cost of living] is so much better there,” said Sandra. “In Florida, there are a lot of Cubans, but it is too expensive to live.”

Once she was settled into her new surroundings, Sandra immediately began to seek positions within her career field, but found temporary employment at a local Subway and at DD’s Discount retail store.

During a shift at DD’s Discount, Sandra and a co-worker both shared that they were looking to find a better job.

“I am young. I want to have a better life… a good job,” said Sandra. “It’s not just a financial situation. This is preparing me for my future. What I learn here is valuable to life.”

Some time later, Sandra’s co-worker, Sahar Siddiqi, told Sandra about SER’s BankWork$ training course in Fort Bend County.

“[Sahar] sent me a link to [the BankWork$ course] she registered for and told me to apply,” said Sandra. “We took the class together.”

Thirty-one year old Sandra was excited for the opportunity to pursue a financial services sector career, she was nervous about her English skills.

“[In the beginning], I was very shy and intimidated – standoffish,” said Sandra. “I get frustrated because English is not my first language. [I am this way] because when I speak to people, I want to say it English. I am self-coconscious."

“Erica [SER BankWork$ instructor] changed that. She made me more comfortable with myself… I felt like a better person.”

Although the primary goal of BankWork$ is to help students obtain financial sector careers, the course also provides essential job readiness training.  

“We learned a lot about several banks…things I didn’t know before [or taught in college],” said Sandra. “Every class was different and very interesting.”

Sandra interviewed with several banks after graduating from BankWork$, but in the end, decided the best path for her was to accept an Administrative Assistant position with Texas Landscape Group in May 2017.

“When I had the interview with my boss, I used everything Erica taught us,” said Sandra. “I brought my certificate from BankWork$ to the interview and he was shocked that I’ve only been in the United States for a year and made so much progress.”

Content with her decisions, Sandra plans to continue to improve her English as well as finish last few courses needed for her Accounting degree.

“I have my own office…I am very happy,” said Sandra. “This is only the beginning!”