Jacqueline Wakhweya’s American dream
After working for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Uganda for over 10 years, Jacqueline Wakhweya decided to leave her country for the U.S. “I am inspired by the American Dream. The ideal that regardless of social class or circumstances of birth; liberty, democracy, human rights and equal opportunity lead to prosperity and success for those willing to work hard and apply their entrepreneurial spirit,” says the economic development specialist. With a coveted green card earned for her “exceptional service” to the American government, she headed to Washington in early 2017 with two nephews and a niece. As a single parent, this precious opportunity meant a fresh start for her and her family.
The quest for employment
The woman who headed a department at USAID, had been deeply committed to empowering women in Uganda – as a member of the Executive Committee of the Women’s Center for Job Creation – now found herself on the job market in a country she was just getting to know. Despite her experience and abundant qualifications, the task proved challenging. After all, the practices and customs of the job market were quite different from what she was accustomed to in her home country. For example,“Everything here is automated. To apply, you do everything online; you never have contact with another human being and there is no feedback. And then you have to brim with self-confidence, whereas in Uganda, you have to come across as humble,” she explains.
The Upwardly Global connection
Determined and willing, Jacqueline redoubled her efforts for six months. Through a serendipitous encounter at a jobs fair, she heard someone mention Upwardly Global, an organization that helps immigrants rebuild their careers in the United States. She contacted the organization immediately. Her coach taught her to write a resume and customized cover letters for the American market. “ I had to condense my resume from several pages to just one! Here, you have to get straight to the point,” she notes with a laugh. Upwardly Global also organizes simulated job interviews, gives advice and facilitates access to over 1,800 online courses via the Coursera platform.
A future ripe with possibility
For Jacqueline, the coaching and her determination paid off: in less than a month with Upwardly Global, she received an offer from Chemonics, an international development company whose main client is none other than USAID. She was hired as a Risk Management Specialist on USAID’s Global Health Procurement and Supply Chain Management project, which delivers lifesaving health commodities to 30-plus countries and strengthens their health systems..
She will also continue her commitment to empowering women in Uganda with the Women’s Center for Job Creation.
This optimist sees a future ripe with possibility for her and her three teenagers: “I see us learning, adapting and embarking on new social and professional challenges, the sky is the beginning……”.
And she has every intention of participating actively in Upwardly Global programs as a former beneficiary!
reporter for Fondation CHANEL