“I have supports to help figure out how I want to make next moves or think through big decisions.”
Mikeya began working with EMPath in 2017 after seeing an advertisement on the train. Since then, with the support of her EMPath mentor, she has accomplished goals across many areas of her life. Today Mikeya works as the Administrator of Food and Nutrition at the Boston Public Health Commission, where she runs food service operations for the Commission’s homeless shelters and supports shelter guests in getting jobs.
Mikeya says coaching sessions with her EMPath mentors have helped her think through big decisions in her life. “Having the Bridge pillars, seeing where I was at, when I first saw it I was actually frustrated,” she shares. “But then understanding the barriers I had made me say, ok, I can get through these things and I can do better. I just need to really use my resources, focus, not put too many things on my plate at one time.”
While in EMPath’s program, Mikeya completed the final class needed to receive her Bachelor’s in Food Service Management. “Technically I graduated from college in 2004, but I had an outstanding class that I needed to take that was keeping me from getting my bachelor’s or fulfilling any other jobs or education if I wanted to,” she explains.
“I’m most proud of finishing my [degree] and for being able to save the money to pay for the class. I also saved money for an emergency fund and to pay off my debts and things like that; I’m really proud of that. I use a budget now; I wasn’t using one before.”
With support from EMPath’s Financial Specialist, Mikeya paid off her credit card debt and raised her credit score. She advocated for and received a salary increase at her job, and she began spending more intentional time with her two sons.
“I [had been spending] time with them, but not intentional time,” she explains. “[Working with my mentor] made me say, all right, they’re a part of my vision as well, I need to set intentional time with to do things with them. I could [also] see the benefits of saving or paying off my debts and things like that, because I don’t want them to be in this same boat when they [get older].”
Mikeya’s mentors encouraged her to focus on taking care of herself and her own wellbeing. “One area I wasn’t really hitting was my wellness,” she says. “I want to live to see my great-grandkids, so I needed to start taking care of myself – and I wasn’t. I had done so much damage to my lifestyle. I’m a single mom and I spent so much time working and trying to get my goals complete, doing all these things, but I wasn’t fully focusing on myself or even fully focusing on my kids.
“[My mentors and I] put a goal in place to save money for a family trip, and we went to visit my family. We set a goal that I would start going back to the gym. That was important to me that they didn’t let me forget that. Like yes, you did hit all these goals and you did so great, [and] these are some areas where you said you wanted to improve, so look at those. That was really touching to me.”
Mikeya says her mentors have encouraged and supported her throughout her time in the program. “They’ve been amazing. They’ve helped me walk through really big decisions, weighing things out and how they would affect me now and long-term,” she says. “I still live a full and chaotic life, but it’s really organized, and I think having my vision for what I want to do long-term helped me set my goals and makes me look at it different. I don’t feel overwhelmed or stressed about it. It’s definitely manageable now. I have supports to help figure out how I want to make next moves or think through big decisions.”
Today, one of Mikeya’s goals is to start swim lessons for herself and her youngest son. “He loves the water, and I love the water, but neither one of us can swim.” Mikeya actively sets goals with older son, who is 12. She says it’s important he see that you can achieve great things when you set goals. “[My kids] may not fully understand it, but I’m putting goals in place to help them long-term as they come into adulthood and being young men.”