by Tommy Nguyen, Pivotal Alumnus

 Coming from foster care means you have to find a way to survive. Once you learn to survive you develop resilience and a sheer will to succeed. That’s what happened to me. See, I grew up with a single mom. When I was 10 years old, she was sent to prison and that kick-started the whole foster care process. I jumped around from foster home to foster home, making it impossible to fit in with the other kids or make school a priority.  

I came to terms with a lot of things in high school. I realized that education was the key to my success and that I had to do better in school. I met Pivotal and doors started opening. They helped me pursue the Pivotal Scholarship, complete my FAFSA, and apply to 4-year universities. And for the first time in my life, I thought to myself, “Hey, I want this college thing, and I can do it.” From there, Pivotal became my silent guardian. I knew they would always have my back. I’m a total movie buff and often think of them as my Bruce Wayne. Just like Bruce, I know they’ll always be there for me and they give me purpose.   

I chose Sonoma State University and am so happy I did. Its smaller campus was a good place for me to develop my networking skills—an expertise that came in handy when I started working with Tom Fandre, Business Development Manager at Pivotal. With Tom’s guidance, I participated in Pivotal’s internship program and completed a summer internship at Comerica Bank as a data support specialist. Tom coached me every step of the way—from preparing my resume, interviewing for the internship, and growing from the internship experience. My internship was focused on a large data migration project. I learned how to configure data and just how important attention to detail is at a financial institution. I also met Sonya Trac through my internship. Sonya is Comerica’s External Affairs Market Manager and has become a mentor and an incredible advocate for me. 

Little did I know, my internship and the relationships I built would lead to a job at Comerica upon graduation. With a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and concentration in Finance under my belt, I used my networking skills to land a job at Comerica. I’m now a Customer Service Representative, learning the ins and outs of how a bank operates. I love learning the business from the ground up and I am confident that my focus, sheer will, and resiliency will help me work my way up to a management position.