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Workforce program helps students succeed

September 07, 2017 | Community

"As a child I spent a lot of time moving from place to place. My family didn’t settle in one location until I was 13 years old,” explains Olawunmi “Lala” Ajibola, whose family is originally from Nigeria. “I also didn’t study much when I was young because I [thought] I wouldn’t be able to attend college.”

Fortunately Lala’s high school counselor advised her about scholarships. She says she now takes her studies very seriously. She also takes her full-time job as a pharmacy technician in Manhattan-based CVS Store #10407 very seriously.

“Every customer must be treated in their own special way. CVS has taught me how to be more compassionate and understanding,” shares Lala.

Lala joined the company three years ago through our Workforce Initiatives partnership with Learning to Work, a New York City Department of Education program. Workforce Initiatives supports youth from an educational, health care and employment perspective through the myCVSJourney Pathways to Health Care Careers program. Each year, the program serves more than 30,000 youth aged 5-24. Their goal, according to Lisa Dowd, Regional Learning Center Manager for Workforce Initiatives, is to increase that number to more than 50,000 annually.

Lala is an example of the program’s success, and works hard to build strong relationships with her customers. “She exudes such positivity and warmth with customers. She’s really exceptional,” explains Lisa, who originally noticed Lala’s potential during her orientation, and has mentored her over the past few years.

“During her first assignment, an externship with a Regional Learning Center and Store #1618, Lala accomplished all of the basics: being professional, following the dress code and finishing tasks on time. And, she also took the initiative to start new projects and help staff members. Lala understood she had a unique opportunity to extern at a major corporation while in high school,” says Lisa.

Now 21, Lala is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and is an A student. “Once I’m done with college and pass my bar exam, I’m thinking about applying for a position in the Legal Department at CVS Health.”

“Young people are sometimes devalued simply because of their age,” observes Lisa. “Lala isn’t afraid to ask a question or voice a suggestion. Young people like her help our company become better.”