My Story: Chelsea Rucker

About a year ago, I moved back to my hometown of Nashville, and I found myself with no steady job and no place to go. My two young daughters and I ended up staying in a homeless shelter for three months. It was the most difficult time I’ve ever faced, and I remember reassuring my daughters by telling them that they were on a camping trip.

I’m a firm believer in parenting by example. I know that no matter what I say, my girls will be looking at my actions. I wanted to show them an example of what to do when life burns you so far down, there is nowhere to go but up. What to do if you get so low that you have nothing. Where do you go from here? What can you do?

Growing up, we never talked about what we want to be when we grow up, or what we should study, or even making good grades. By the time most of us were teenagers, we were in survival mode. We were just going out getting jobs to make ends meet.

I didn’t even know what financial responsibility was until into my 20s. I never heard the concept of being financially responsible. Where I am from, many of the people only have a few options: You might sell drugs, or you may just go into fast food, or work retail the rest of your life. But nobody’s talking about career options where I come from.

And that was my path until I made the decision that I wanted a better life for me and my children. While working in a call center, I had learned about developers and how much money they made, and it sparked my interest.

I consider myself to be a little bit of a tough girl. When I decided that that’s what I wanted to do, nobody could tell me differently.

However, I knew that I needed help, and I knew that Goodwill had initiatives to support people developing professional skills. I went to the Career Center at Goodwill of Middle Tennessee in Nashville and they told me about a partnership they formed with Google. I started a program for the Google IT Support Professional Certificate, and I qualified for a scholarship to cover the cost.

One day, I heard that an operations manager from Google was going to be giving a tech talk at the Goodwill and I knew this was the perfect opportunity to speak to someone on the inside of the company that I wanted to work for! I was offered an opportunity to send them my resume. I was nervous about my experience but the staff at Goodwill gave me confidence. They helped me with my resume and gave me some great notes. I did four interviews with Google, and they brought me on as a data center technician, and I am working towards fulfilling my goal which was to become a developer.

I am proud because I feel I have set the best example possible for my children. Getting up at 4 am, and trying to commit to that learning schedule, and also work while I’m learning. It just all came together for me.

If you take the initiative and invest in yourself and your own education, then you can take advantage of the resources available to you like the resources of Goodwill’s Career Center. I never thought a year ago that I would be in the situation I am now. I have a job that I love. I have a three bedroom house, and my children have all the space they need to learn and grow.