KRA jobseeker-customer Michele Burden, 33, has been writing with a passion since she was 12 years old. The mother of three, after receiving notice that her first book had been accepted for publication, shared the good news with her KRA/VIEW (Virginia Initiative for Employment not Welfare) Job Readiness Academy (JRA) classmates. “Whatever you want to do in life, if you stay focused you can accomplish anything! I have seen many days of struggle and hardship, and now success! I am very passionate about my work and I want that known to the world and to my children.” She also shared that her book, Dramatic Encounters, is based on actual life events growing up in “the projects.”
Burden received notice on August 17, 2012, that her book would be produced, promoted, and distributed by a Pennsylvania-based publishing company. Thrilled, she added, “Your dream can be accomplished, no matter your situation.” Burden had ‘shopped’ her book to several companies, but none were interested. However, one afternoon, feeling dejected, she had a life-changing conversation with Frederick Smith, her KRA Instructor. Smith talked with her about being consistent and direct, and how effective communication is pivotal in the work environment, especially the publishing industry. This conversation gave Burden the confidence to send an email to the company to follow-up on her submission. Incredibly, just days later, she received an acceptance letter and contract.
She not only accomplished one of her life’s goals, but did it without a high school diploma. In fact, from the outset of her participation in the program, she didn’t see the need for such a credential. She had enrolled in VIEW to get a job, and even though she still intended to seek employment, the fact that she was about to be published only deepened her conviction that she did not need a GED, which is an equivalency diploma. However, Smith and Kuwana Thomas, her KRA Career Agent, worked hard to motivate her to pursue a GED as another tool in her professional-skills development kit.
Burden concluded, “Now, I see it from a different perspective. Through the JRA, I turned my mindset from just finding a job for the present, to planning for a successful future. Aside from Mr. Smith and Ms. Thomas, my mother is my number one fan and motivator. Repeatedly, she told me that I should never stop being passionate about my dream, and at times when I really wanted to give up, I had to press through.” Burden, who is meeting with a lawyer soon to finalize the contract for her book deal, continues to write and to participate in the JRA/GED program.