Stories of HOPE – Shahidah Williams

By Jordan Hagedon, HOPE Corps Fellow Shahidah Williams is rising quickly in the financial services industry.  She holds a BA in Japanese and International Trade and a BBA in Finance from Eastern Michigan University. Shahidah also has an Executive Certificate in Personal and Small Business Financial Planning from Georgetown University, as well as several FINRA licenses in investments and insurance, an IRS-tax...

Stories of HOPE – Dianne Shorte

By Jordan Hagedon, HOPE Corps Fellow Dianne Shorte is a wife, mother of three sons, marriage mentor, and legal secretary at the firm of Jeffery Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP.  Dianne is also completing her first book manuscript, Ladies Operating Very Effectively (L.O.V.E) – The Power in a Woman. This book will highlight her life challenges, successes and the seemingly ordinary, yet extraordinary, young girls...

Stories of HOPE – Louis Nunez

By Jordan Hagedon, HOPE Corps Fellow Born in California, raised in Chicago, and finally settled in Denver, Louis Nunez understands what it means to make the most out of every day.  His family made sure of it. “Even though we were poor,” Louis explains, “it really felt like we were rich.”   His parents placed a high value on education, making sure to fill their house with used books and tattered issues of...

Stories of HOPE – Nathan Press

By Sean Sallee, Deputy Director of HOPE Corps For many of us, we waited all year to enjoy summer break the way most 16 year olds do by going away on vacation and going to the beach.  The end of senior year signified the last few months of truly being a youth. For a few people, however, free time can be used more valuably.  Nathan Press believed his summers would be better spent understanding, collaborating with,...

Stories of HOPE – Aditya Tandon

By Jordan Hagedon, HOPE Corps Fellow Aditya Tandon was born in India in May 1982 into a family of doctors.  His father is an ENT (ear-nose-throat) surgeon, who still practices at the age of 71.  His mother is a recent retiree after a four decade career as a senior professor and Head of Department.  She served in the Preventive and Social medicine department in Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi.  His...

Stories of HOPE – Jane Tran

By James Chen, Los Angeles Program Manager Jane Tran is currently the branch manager for the Wells Fargo Bank branch location in San Gabriel, CA.  If it were not for a pivotal moments and turning points in 2008 and 2012, I would not have the honor and privilege of coordinating and collaborating with Jane today to help empower the youth and young adult in the Greater Los Angeles Area. It takes a unique and special...

Stories of HOPE – Armin Rashti

By Jordan Hagedon, HOPE Corps Fellow Armin Rashti was born in Iran and moved with his family to the United States when he was four years old.  He lived in both Philadelphia and Delaware until his parents realized how tired they were of the weather and moved the family to California when Armin was a teenager.  He attended West Covina High school, where he graduated in three years.  He then went to Cal Poly Pomona...

Stories of HOPE – Walter Wodtke

Walter Wodtke comes from a family based on dedication and hard work.  He was raised by his mother, who was a single parent and has had polio since she was six month’s old. “Not only did she raise me, but she also put herself through college and became a social worker with the County of Los Angeles,” Walter states, “She has been a great inspiration to me day in and day out.” Walter began in the banking...

Stories of HOPE – Celeste O’Brien

Celeste O’Brien describes herself as an entrepreneur by heart and passion. She has been a massage therapist for eleven years now and works at Symmetry360 Massage, which she owns along with her business partner, Kina. Symmetry360 Massage began with just Kina and a lone massage room in a Pilates studio. “We had a dream to create a company that was supportive and nurturing to massage therapists,” Celeste explains, “helping to learn and grown within their careers. We also felt, and still feel strongly, that massage helps to reconnect people to the most important thing there is: our bodies.” With these goals in mind, their business has been open for six years and now has three locations and forty employees. They hope to continue expanding and impacting the world in a positive way.

Stories of HOPE – Hayana Kwon

Hayana Kwon is a 1.5 generation Korean American. Her parents immigrated to the United States when she was one year old. She and her sister were both raised with heavy traditional Korean values, which made it difficult for them to fit in. Instead of an occasional night out for a pizza dinner, Hayana’s parents thought it was better to save money and eat home with the family. Spending allowance money on a friend’s birthday slumber party was out of the question. “So growing up was difficult,” Hayana explains, “but thanks to my parents, I learned the importance of money management, saving and budgeting at an early age.” With the help of her parents, Hayana was able to buy a car and pay off her college tuition quickly.

Stories of HOPE – Leisa Boswell

Leisa Boswell, like most Californians, is a transplant originally from the rural cornfields of central Illinois. Leisa came to California after her first failed attempt at college (University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign) and went to a community college for a year to gain residency before transferring to UCLA. She loved living in Los Angeles, but moved to the bay area for her job after she graduated. She is passionate about education, photography and snail mail. “I am single-handedly trying to save the United States Post Office by sending tons and tons of postcards to strangers and family alike,” Leisa states.

Stories of HOPE – Nicolette Szonday

In 1986, Nicolette Szonday left Hungary with her family as political refugees. Because of how her mother and grandparents were saved, protected and fed by American soldiers during World War II, Nicolette’s family chose to move to America out of the many countries willing to take them in. Starting over was tough, but Nicolette used her Small Business Accounting Certificate and BA to stay on track. She has worked in the financial field for the past fifteen years, working for Bank of America and now for JP Morgan Chase as a Sr. Specialist experienced in handling domestic and international clients with their retail and credit card accounts. Nicolette is also currently in training to become a lender with Chase Credit Card Services in Wilmington, DE.

Stories of HOPE – Donna Swopes

Donna Swopes has been volunteering since she was a child. Born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri, Donna began volunteering as a Brownie in elementary school at Barstow Country Day School. In high school, she volunteered as a girl scout at East High School. “Volunteering was a requirement of my parents,” Donna states, “giving back to the community was important to them.” After high school, Donna attended the American Institute of Banking and Valencia Community College.

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