Homeless teen makes it in financial world

From a homeless teen to executive in the finance scene.

Washington Heights native Emily Quezada went from living in a shelter after being thrown out of her home at 18 years old and pregnant, and now at 25 she is a finance executive with online travel agency CheapOair.

The teen mother lived at the Covenant House — a shelter that assists homeless youth — and while there she entered a career internship program with the company. She was inspired to take the internship, which also led to a full time position where she is currently pursuing her dream in a field that always piqued her curiosity, she said.

“I’ve always been interested in travel and taking flights, so I just went for it,” said Quezada.

As a young teen, Emily did not have much work experience outside of retail. When the chance to explore a different field came up she jumped at the opportunity to make her time at the shelter worth it, she said.

“Most of my work experience was from being a cashier, so when I saw the opportunity for the program at the Covenant House, I decided to take it to stay,” said Quezada.

One of the many skills that aided Quezada to quickly move up in the company was her bilingualism, she said. Her ability to speak another language allowed her to help the company with their non-English speaking customers.

“Because I speak Spanish that assisted me a lot with moving into different departments that needed need help with Spanish speaking customers,” she said.

Since her employment with CheapOair, Quezada has earned multiple new skills that she prides herself on having, particularly her capabilities with computers.

“My main job here is working with customers but I also have to calculate flights for passengers, do a lot of typing,” said Quezada.

Her computer literacy expanded when she was introduced to demanding software programs she did not know how to use, said Quezada.

“I never was computer savvy but now I work excel and book travel through our system — it was very challenging because there were these codes and I did not know where they came from and how to work with them,” she said.

Now a full-time student at Bronx Community College, Quezada said she loved her job but was also setting sights on her true passion.

“I want to stay in finance, but my biggest goal is to work in human resources and I’m going to school full-time for it,” she said.

Quezada praises the Covenant House for providing her a home during a challenging time in her life, and even said she would not change the outcome of her life if she could. She recommends other teens who were in her position to seek similar homes.

“For people in need, the Covenant House is definitely a support system and I wouldn’t be where I am today without their support and other resources,” she said. “I don’t think I would’ve wanted to change anything about the outcome of my life — this is how I got to where I am, and I only wish I had gone to the Covenant House earlier.”

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com.

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