Maryland

Workforce Success Story Submitted By:
Baltimore Mayor's Office of Employment Development

Meet Rhonda

Workforce Challenge

When Rhonda Hammonds first came to the Westside Youth Opportunity (YO) Center in 2008, she had her sights set on a career in the sports/fitness field. “I’ve always known what I wanted to do,” she explains. With siblings and friends who were members of the Westside YO Center, Rhonda started coming herself specifically for employment development services. She wanted to better prepare herself for the workforce and connect with internship and real-world work experiences.

Workforce Solution

Through YO, Rhonda landed an internship with a Baltimore organization called BMoreFit, a nonprofit created to address Baltimore’s growing obesity rates among African-American and Hispanic youth. Thirty Westside YO members were selected to be trained as personal fitness trainers through BMoreFit. It was a year-long paid internship, and of the 30 YO members who started the training, Rhonda was one of eight who completed it successfully, and was the only one to receive a job offer at the end of the program. She took the job and earned her bachelor’s degree in sports management from Coppin State University, maintaining a perfect 4.0 grade point average while juggling her schoolwork with two other part-time jobs and a newborn baby.

Outcomes & Benefits

Rhonda is now in graduate school at Coppin and has, in a way, come full circle – she was recently hired as the fitness instructor at YO Westside. She balances the job with another part-time position with NEWfit Kids, and says the relationships she developed with the founder of BMoreFit and other mentors she met during her internship have helped propel her career forward. “The internship experience I got through YO was the best thing ever for my career. It opened up a network for me.”

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