My name is Maria Claudia Egoroff, but my friends call me Claudia. I’ve been with Eckerd Connects since 2017, when I started out as a Visitation Specialist. In 2019 I was promoted to my present position of Family Coach.
I was born in Cali, Colombia. After obtaining a degree in Psychology at a local university, I had the opportunity to travel to Spain to do a postgraduate course in Industrial Psychology. Although I was able to find a satisfying job upon my return to Colombia, there was still an area in which I remained unqualified – my English language skills! So as soon as I was able to save a bit of money I applied for a student visa and travelled to the United States to take a course in conversational English. I soon had the opportunity to practice my newly acquired language skills. For a short time later I met the love of my life – a Canadian by the name of Ron Egoroff, who I eventually married. Although Ron passed away a few years ago, I had a wonderful daughter with him who is now 19 years old and a student at the University of South Florida.
In my spare time I like to do artwork and crafts. I’m also fond of traveling and going to meet people of different backgrounds and cultures. I also have a great group of friends – Latin American ladies – and just about any occasion is a good excuse for us to get together and celebrate!
I am really fond of my position with Eckerd Connects. Not only is the workplace environment friendly, but I’m also surrounded by a very professional and supportive group of co-workers.
As a Case manager, my greatest source of satisfaction comes from being able to help our clients overcome their difficulties, whether it is by arranging financial assistance or simply by providing emotional support. For me, their gratitude has proved to be a never-ending source of fulfilment and satisfaction.
Sebrena Pawley is no stranger to adversity. A “self-described” concrete jungle native New Yorker was abandoned by her mother at Mount Sinai Hospital the day she was born, and she was raised in the foster care system.
Now, she worked tirelessly as a passionate champion and advocate for young adults in NYC as the area manager for Eckerd Connects | Workforce Development.
As a youth, Pawley found school easy and was frequently bored. With moving from foster home to foster home, she did not find it necessary to go to classes just to move again. But when she was held back a grade due to skipping class, it was a wake-up call… She was determined not to let it happen again and excelled ahead two grades to graduate at the age of 16.
Still, Sebrena struggled to find consistency and was hunted by her past, feeling angry and alone. It wasn’t until circumstances brought her to a shelter and she began working at the front desk that she found purpose and direction.
“As the young adults came in, I would give them positive words of affirmation, and when I realized I was helping them, something inside of me said, ‘This is it, this is what you’re supposed to do for the rest of your life.’ So that’s when I really found my gift for serving and I’ve been giving that gift away ever since I was 16.”
Pawley worked her way up through numerous jobs in the human services industry looking for a place where she could apply her gift and she found it at Eckerd Connects. She applauds the organization’s work-readiness training program, which teaches young adults the necessary skills to get a job and keep it. But for her, the job training is not the most important part of what she does. What’s crucial, she believes, is developing independent living skills, mental health, and self-worth.
“A lot of them don’t think that their goals are reachable, so I think just encouraging them to visualize what they want to achieve is huge. We reinforce that hard work and persistence are going to pay off, but young adults have to take responsibility for doing what they need to do and be realistic about their challenges… They are resilient, but we have to ensure that they know that they’re worthy first. They need to understand that they can fulfill their dreams.”
Being in the epicenter of the pandemic and overcoming Covid-19 herself, Pawley is now focused on the business of moving forward. She says, while working with young adults remotely will never be the same as connecting face-to-face, in some ways it has made her team more productive. She is looking at what the future holds when Eckerd Connects reopens in NYC, which she acknowledges probably won’t happen for months… Having the virus made her more resolved than ever to serve.
When asked to sum up her journey thus far and the key to overcoming the challenges she has faced, Pawley gave just two words: I persisted.
It took a lot of hard work and dedication, but I was able to overcome a lot of obstacles to get to where I am today. Nonetheless, my perseverance paid off as I earned a master’s degree in Business Administration. Only a couple of us in my family have been fortunate enough to achieve... I am so very proud and grateful that this organization recognizes and embraces diversity as a part of its culture.