On October 5th, 2021, alongside 300 guests, Skills awarded Discover Financial Services with the Champion for Community Impact Award at the 7th Annual Employment Champions Breakfast. On hand to share his experience working at Discover's new Chatham Customer Care Center was new hire Brock Thurman, cheered on by colleagues including his supervisor, the center's General Manager, and the CEO of Discover.
Below is a transcript of his remarks.Good morning, everyone.
It is an honor and a pleasure to be here. Thank you to the Skills team for inviting me to speak to you all today. My name is Brock Thurman. I am 24 years old, and I am a Customer Service Representative at Discover’s new customer care center in Chatham.
According to City Bureau, “Chatham represents the old stronghold of Black economic mobility in Chicago.”
But if you Google Chatham today, you’ll find a different reality that tells stories of a hurting, forgotten community. If you only read the news headlines, you may believe that neighborhoods on the South Side hold no value. But if you believe that, it just means you haven’t been there, and you haven’t talked to people like me.
I like to think of myself as an all-around Chicago guy. My family is from Auburn Gresham, just a short distance from Chatham. Growing up, I also lived in Austin on the West Side. My high school years were a little rough, but I got myself together and was accepted in to Mississippi Valley State University. After two years, I ended up coming back home when my grandmother passed away. I needed to hit pause and started working.
I’ve worked since high school in a variety of jobs, and I love jobs that allow me to interact with people. I taught swim lessons at the YMCA on the west side for three years, but I left because I needed a job with higher earning potential and a career path. I tried working in restaurants, in demolition for my grandfather, at a steel mill, but they didn’t feel right. Then I landed a job in customer service for a bank. I had found a role that was exactly what I was looking for. Then the pandemic hit, and I was laid off.
I love to work. I can’t sit around. And as the oldest of six siblings, I’m looked up to at home. So when I was out of work, it was felt by my whole family.
One day, a former coworker told me about her new job at Discover. It sounded great, but was it real? Full-time, well-paying jobs in Chatham? Typically, jobs like that are in the Loop or the suburbs, not close to where I’m from on the South Side. But this was different. It was perfect. And I got hired.
Since I’ve started working at Discover, I feel like my future is within reach—because I can see it. I am fortunate to work for leaders like Juatise, someone who believes in me and pushes me towards my long-term goals. I can see my next step as a team lead, management, learning the entire operation. Finishing up college and earning my degree. Then owning my own business so I can bring more jobs to my community, and with them, generational wealth to Chicago’s Black families.
Thank you Discover for seeing the value of investing in Chatham. Thank you Discover, Skills, and everyone else involved for seeing the value in me, and making my goals and dreams a reality.