When 44-year-old Jennifer Edwards beat ovarian cancer for the second time, she had two options. She could re-enter the import industry she’d been successful in for 20 years before cancer rendered her unable to work, or, she could pursue a new career entirely, one that has a higher opportunity for growth. 

She chose the latter. 

In taking the first steps of her next life chapter, she connected with the National Able Network, a United Way partner, and found her new lease on life.

United Way of Metro Chicago invests in job training and employment services, like National Able Network, so our neighbors can access quality, well-paying jobs that provide for themselves and their families. Of all unemployed people in January 2020, 29.3% were workers who were reentering the labor force, like Jennifer. Additionally, data indicates the presence of career coaching or career placement help directly correlates with a rise in job retention. 

As she researched career options, Edwards reached a moment of clarity by reflecting on her own life and values. She thought of her two bouts of cancer, the fights of which changed her life forever. Then she thought of her son, who survived a battle with leukemia. Her path was clear: she would pursue health – specifically ultrasonography. 

Her career coach, Carey Goldenburg, quickly enrolled her in The Aquarius Institute to begin training for her new professional pathway. Goldenburg hand-picked the training opportunity specifically to align with Edward’s needs for a flexible schedule in order to allow time to take her son to evening doctor checkups. Being a single mom, she alone had to ensure both her and her son’s post-cancer health needs were being met. 

Jennifer completed her classes in February of 2020 and began practicing clinical work. Meanwhile, Goldenburg helped her beef up her job-searching skills. “Carey has been so great, he’s given me so much information,” she said. He helped her create a LinkedIn and in no time she was networking within the medical community and building a community of like-minded professionals. 

Jennifer’s transition into a promising new career is well underway. Only this time, it’s one filled with passion, aligns with her life calling, and has higher ceilings. She plans to move to Texas with her son and is already in contact with multiple hospitals in the area. 

“Without National Able Network, I wouldn’t have been able to do it – money wise or school wise,” Jennifer said. “I think more people need to know about it [National Able Network]. Come out and ask for the help.”

Your gift to United Way will fund job training programs like National Able Network’s and increase employment opportunities for our neighbors. Donate today!