Candace Gilbert

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Candace Gilbert

Last summer, Candace Gilbert found herself homeless and looking for an opportunity to put her life back on track. She had skills and had majored in computer programming in college several years ago, but all of that training was outdated and no longer relevant to the job market.

She also had a list of impressive past jobs, but bad choices ended her once thriving career. 

“Well, as far as how I became homeless, I was a meth addict for a year and a half. My best friend rescued me, and I stayed at his house to detox for two weeks,” she said.  This was the first of what would be many positive turns for Candace.

Another positive turn came the day Goodwill’s Computer Instructor Ty Gentry walked into a local resource center for the homeless to introduce individuals there to Goodwill of East Texas’ GoodTech Academy.

During one of her daily visits to the computer lab at the resource center to look for a job, Ty walked in.  “He told me about GoodTech Academy. I was entranced, the next day, I met with Ty, filled out an application for the CompTIA A+ class, and I have been taking classes at the GoodTech Academy (ever) since,” Candace said.

Prior to her drug addiction, Candace, age 43, held several office and professional jobs.  She was a Customer Service Representative at the Tyler Morning Telegraph newspaper, Front Desk and Certified Writing Tutor at Tyler Junior College and Senior Secretary for the City of Tyler.  Her methamphetamine addiction cost her everything – her job, her home and her car.

“Goodwill helped me by giving me the opportunity to participate in their GoodTech Academy, and learn the skills needed to pass the CompTIA A+ exams,” Candace said. “The Goodwill here in Tyler on Locust provided career coaching, navigation, and planning services along with job placement.”

Candace continued her education and has now completed not only the CompTIA A+ course, but the Networking + and Security+ certification courses; as well as the Google IT Professional Certificate course.

“Getting into this program is a great accomplishment for me, because it takes me back to my original passion of working with computers. I have been fascinated with computers since I was 7- years-old. I even majored in computer programming at Tyler Junior College after I graduated high school. Unfortunately, by the time that I graduated, everything that I had just learned became obsolete and I would have had to start all over again,” she said.

The good news is working now with the Census Bureau making $18 per hour, and she is indeed getting her life back on track. “I am always encouraging others to do their best, because when we do our best, then we can look back and say “I did that!”