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Beyond our workshop season, PeerForward volunteers continue to serve as role models for Peer Leaders. Christy Butler and Erica Boyd from the professional services network Deloitte are our Volunteer Spotlight.
Christy Butler is a Senior Assistant in Audit who graduated from the Community College of Baltimore County with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in accounting.
Erica Boyd works as a Senior Consultant with a Bachelor’s in Business Management from Hampton University and a Master’s in Business Administration with a concentration in project management from Strayer University.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, we sat down with the pair to discuss how they uplift their fellow women in the workplace, the importance of a college degree, and their volunteer experience at PeerForward.
Can you tell me about a time when you empowered other women in the workplace?
Erica Boyd: I would say when I was giving someone else opportunities where I knew that it would give them leverage in front of senior leadership or in front of our clients. My clients know me because I’ve been there for a while. In order for her to get the recognition that she needed and to be able to show the skills that she had, I took a step back and let her kind of lead an effort so that she could get that because I didn’t need it.
Christy Butler: I would say I had a similar experience. Last year we had an intern who joined our team. She was the first intern since I’ve been working at Deloitte. It was her first professional position and she wanted to do a good job. At first, she was really reserved and nervous. I noticed she kept coming to me with questions even though I wasn’t the person she reported to directly. I took her under my wing and made sure she felt comfortable. She slowly started to become more open and speak up in professional situations, I just had to inspire confidence in her.
Why do you choose to volunteer with PeerForward?
Erica Boyd: I am a PeerForward Alumni. Back then it was College Summit and I remember seeing influential adults during that time and how amazing they were in the workforce. I remember thinking “that could be me one day.” So now, with the status that I have, I wanted to come back and show young adults that you can 100% be a successful person in the workforce, and here’s how you get there. So whatever tools or tips I can provide, even if it’s just for a few hours a quarter, I’m happy to do it!
Christy Butler: I read that throughout a student’s four years in high school, they have approximately 38 minutes to meet with a counselor in total. That is just not enough time. They need volunteers and people that can reach out. I come from a poor background. I had to work through school. Because of my past, I can identify with a lot of these students’ struggles. It’s very important to reach out to our youth and let them know that we care. This is an inclusive environment, and we are going to lift as we climb.
Why do you think it is important for first-generation low-income students to pursue a college degree?
Christy Butler: I am a first-generation student in my family. I had the opportunity to work in many different careers, and some of them were profitable, but I can almost guarantee you that getting a college degree will help you earn more money and be able to better provide for your family. It’s not just for that either, it’s personal satisfaction. Once you have your degree, whether it’s two year or four year, or from a vocational-technical school, no one can take that from you. You have achieved that. You have earned that. To me, education is very important. PeerForward is a wonderful organization that helps students who may not otherwise think of going to school that it can be achieved.
Erica Boyd: I too am a first-generation college student, and I can see the difference in my career trajectory from myself versus my parents. Even though my parents are very successful, they’ve been working for over 30 years, it took them a while to get to where they are. With a college degree, and then eventually a master’s degree, it catapulted my success. I realized how quickly I could do things. Even in Deloitte, the negotiations were different because I had an advanced degree. I think even if you’re uncertain about what you want to do when you go to school, it’s important that you at least try. As long as you have a degree, that at least gives you the footing to go a step higher.
Some responses have been edited for length and clarity