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Baki Morgan: “Hopefully, my Story Inspires Others in the LGBTQ+ Community Take a Leap Forward”

There’s a first time for everything, and for JVS SoCal, LGBTQ+ couple Bakiamani “Baki” Morgan and her wife graduating from the ApartmentWorks and CareerWork$ Medical training programs during the same session marked an exciting first.

Baki grew up in Inglewood and planned to join the military after high school. When she became housing insecure at age 17, she instead enrolled in a Job Corps training program in the hospitality industry. This led to jobs working in kitchens over the next decade, which still left Baki struggling financially. The typical starting salary in the hospitality industry is less than $25/hr — hardly enough to live on in the Los Angeles area. In particular, people identifying as LGBTQ+ face other challenges that can impact their ability to find and maintain steady and sustainable employment, such as lack of access to resources or support systems, difficulty navigating bureaucratic processes, and high rates of poverty and homelessness.

At the onset of the pandemic, Baki had left her kitchen job and was in search of another. The timing left her unemployed through the summer, and when she finally landed a new role, she didn’t love it. “That’s when we found JVS SoCal through a lady doing our taxes,” she says. “My wife and I both didn’t have much going on, so we decided to try different programs.”

Baki opted for ApartmentWorks, though she was more interested in learning the administrative side of the industry. “I wanted to pick up a new trade and see where it took me,” Baki says.

Baki learned a lot from the program—about the apartment industry in general as well as maintenance skills. In property management, a good deal of the work is customer service oriented. “It helped me for the administrative side as well since there’s a lot of communication that goes on with both leasing and maintenance,” she explains.

After completing ApartmentWorks, Baki interviewed with 12 companies and received nine offers in leasing and training, plus three maintenance offers with the option of moving into leasing. But one interview with a Greystar regional manager stood out. “He saw a spark in me and wanted to help with my long-term career goals,” shares Baki.

Since May 2021, Baki has worked as a leasing agent for Greystar’s Avenue Hollywood property, and she’s on her way to becoming an assistant manager. “Greystar is one of the most amazing companies,” she enthuses. “There are so many opportunities for learning, development and growth.”

In fact, with the income Baki now earns, she’s been able to move into a nice apartment with her wife, four cats and a hamster. “It’s afforded me to live where I do now and to support myself and my family,” she says.

With leasing experience under her belt, Baki’s long term goal is to get a real estate license. She hopes to one day buy a home as well as to start a non-profit to support young people in the LGBTQ+ Community who are housing-insecure or need help navigating life. In fact, LGBTQ+ people have been found to have a higher unemployment rate compared to their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts.

About the JVS program that helped Baki take a major leap forward in her life, she says: “Hopefully, my story inspires others in the LGBTQ+ community to do the same because at JVS SoCal they’re accepted and it’s a safe space for them, too.”

If you’d like to help others to leap forward in life through career training, please donate here.