Tway graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in 2018. Now he is a student with a full-ride scholarship at the Community College of Denver while working part-time on the marketing team for Careerwise Colorado.
He loves drawing, taking photos and using his design skills at work – but his passions and focus were not always the case.
“In high school, I remember just running around the school – I was everywhere,” he said. “It was our assistant principal, Jennifer Alvarado, that stopped me once and told me, ‘I think this program would be really cool for you. You get to go to college for free and you get to work.’
“I was looking for something to kind of push me into gear for what I’m gonna do after high school. I thought this was a good opportunity to take.”
“I was looking for something to kind of push me into gear for what I’m gonna do after high school.”
Lincoln teacher Lista Chatterjee was his next champion. She helped him start the process of making sure his grades were good enough and his attendance was on point. In addition, she supported Tway in creating his resumé and practicing his interview skills, and then applying for jobs.
“She always made sure you were excused ahead of time if you had an interview and could do the work ahead of time,” he said, “and I got help catching up with work.”
At first, Tway thought he would apply to an internship with an insurance agency. However, he really connected during his second interview with CareerWise, the state youth apprenticeship non-profit connecting students and employers. Thirty minutes after the interview, they told him he had the job.
“I felt really good, I was like, ‘Oh-my-gosh I have my first real job!’ ” he said. “It was a cool moment for me, but also scary. I have to actually wake up and go to work. I can’t just be pretend sick. I have to actually do it and go and make money and contribute to my company.”
“I was like, Oh my gosh, I have my first real job! It was a cool moment for me, but also scary. I have to actually wake up and go to work.”
Within the first few months of the internship during his senior year, Tway noticed the importance of having his supervisor’s support and how the experience made him a stronger student:
“My supervisor always assured me and made sure I benefited from this program,” he said. “She pushes me to do so much. We were in a meeting one day, and I had already struggled to spell correctly, and I was writing this really big email, and she was like, ‘Okay we need to sit down and go over this email.”
“She gave me so much good advice, and helped with the grammar and stuff, and really went into teacher mode, pushing me to help me succeed,” he said. “I got so much better through work, that I got this one essay back with only two red corrections on it and my teacher asked me what had changed and I had to say, ‘I think it’s been the stuff at work that’s really helped!’ ”
“It was such a cool moment. Every adult has supported my journey here.”
“My supervisor always assured me and made sure I benefited from this program … Every adult has supported my journey here.”
Tway says the internship gave him the motivation to be a better student, and really connect directly why it mattered what he was learning in the classroom to being able to succeed out in the professional world.
“It really changes a student’s life,” he said. “I would 100% recommend it to family, to friends, to anybody. It not only gives you a different aspect on learning, but gives you a new take you don’t get in the classroom. You learn how to communicate with an adult correctly. You learn how to multitask and prioritize, and how to present yourself.
“Because you need to be so on track, it makes you value and care about school more. It motivates you to attend class and take school more seriously. It gives students a chance to succeed, even for students who don’t think they can.”
“It gives students a chance to succeed, even for students who don’t think they can.”
What stands out most about Tway? It’s the pride he has for his team and the work he does at Careerwise. Just this past week, he collaborated with the other apprentices to make breakfast (eggs, bacon, you name it!) for the entire staff.
He now knows what he is capable of as a young professional, in large part due to the support of his supervisors who let him take chances and learn.
“At first our marketing team was really small – just three people,” he said. “I saw my supervisor had a lot on her plate, and I wanted to be able to help her more. That’s how I started getting into design.”
For future students interested in a pathway through CareerConnect or the Apprenticeship program, he has some advice:
“It’s not what you do – it’s how you do it,” he said. “Never give up when things get hard. This program helps people and communities who don’t think they’ll succeed. This lets you do something that’s maybe the opposite of your parents’ path, something different.”