After my first year at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, funds got tough. I felt like my options were limited and I decided to enlist in the United States Navy. I didn’t realize then that a lifetime of options was just opening up. Being in the military helped me realize the diversity of our nation but, more than that, my eyes were opened to the challenges so many other face in their upbringing and daily lives. After coming home and trying to adjust back to the civilian life, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, career-wise. I assumed once I got out of the military life would be simpler and I’d be able to find a job easily, but I ended up going back to the previous job I worked before I enlisted. Again, I thought my options were limited, until a friend told me about Year Up, a program dedicated to eliminating the opportunity divide and connecting young professionals with Fortune 500 companies while providing college credits. Year Up has given me the chance to start a career in the corporate world by interning as a personal banker at JP Morgan Chase without a four-year degree – a chance I never imagined having grown up an African American male from the southeast side of Chicago.