Student Spotlight: Lay C.

Lay C. is the first graduate of Indy Reads’ Customer Service Skills Program (CSSP), which combines an industry-recognized customer service certification with a paid internship in our community bookstore. This program was generously funded by the Margot L. Eccles Arts & Culture Fund. Only nine days after completing the program, Lay began a new job at a daycare center!

Originally from Venezuela, Lay moved to Indianapolis in November 2019 with her mother and brother. “I started high school in 2020, but COVID happened so I didn’t really have my high school experience,” she said. “My senior year was all hybrid. I’ve been grateful that at least I get so much knowledge and [Indianapolis Public Schools] helped me a lot with English.”

Lay first heard about Indy Reads’ CSSP from her mom who was taking English classes at Southeast Community Services Center. “Macy [former Indy Reads AmeriCorps WorkLiteracy Coach who teaches English with Southeast Community Services] was like, ‘This is a bookstore where you can work and also they do customer service training, so you are ready to work in an office.’”

From the very first day, Lay loved her experience practicing her customer service skills with Indy Reads. “Everything looked so organized,” she said. “I really feel like it was a warm welcome, too, from all the staff. I like the environment a lot and I told my mom if I’m going to be in a job, it’s supposed to be a place where I enjoy to stay. I got up every day and was like, ‘Hey, I’m going to my job and actually do what I like.’”

There are two pieces to the CSSP: the online coursework to earn a customer service certification and the paid internship. “I like the videos [in the online course],” Lay said. “I don’t like to skip any, because it’s good to know more; it’s good to learn. What I really enjoy about [this program] is all the bookstore programs and how they can help people from the outside. I’m like an assistant to the programs and I really enjoy it, because I’m working and learning at the same time. When [authors] talk about their new-release books, I’m like, ‘Ah! That’s so interesting; that’s so deep!”

Lay has been interested in working with youth for a long time. “I used to work part-time at the John Boner Center in the after-school program, which is an organization that helps out the Eastside people,” Lay said. “I was like a type of counselor or youth mentor. I helped them to do their homework, to do activities.”

Since finishing our program, Lay has decided that she wants to be a school guidance counselor. “I like psychology in general, but also for immigrants, too,” she said. “Because I came here by airplane, but a lot of people came from the border and stuff, so I feel like a lot of them do not have access to therapy. I could be someone to listen to them, actually, about that situation. It can be very traumatizing. Everybody needs, at least, some therapy in their life, somebody to listen.”

Working with Lay in our CSSP and watching her master professional skills from working the cash register to assisting with bookstore programs has been so inspiring! We were honored to host her as a Graduate Presenter at Indy Reads Inaugural Fundraising Breakfast: Unlocking Our Potential. Congratulations, Lay. We cannot wait to see what the future holds!

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