“I am not a survivor: I am an overcomer, and I continue to overcome every day by walking forward one day at a time and focusing on taking care of myself and my family.”
That’s what Jessica shared about her experience as part of the apprenticeship program that Delta created in partnership with Wellspring Living’s Women’s Academy for women who have been trafficked, experienced sexual exploitation or are at-risk.
Delta has been serving as a leader in the human trafficking space since 2011 as we work to bring the world closer together through empathy and humanity. The airline’s fight against human trafficking starts with spreading awareness by supporting education and prevention, and restoring lives.
The apprenticeship program launched in 2018 to help survivors overcome true barriers that come with rewriting their stories by offering career skills, mentorship and critical work experience to help them chart a course to new opportunities.
Beyond building resumes, the apprenticeships create a space where survivors are treated as equals by keeping their history private, allowing participants to trade the identity of human trafficking survivor for new titles: specialist, colleague, friend. Delta has hosted seven apprentices since October 2018.
“There is no doubt that human trafficking is a dark and difficult topic, but it is our responsibility to get involved and to choose not to look away,” said Allison Ausband, S.V.P. – In Flight Service. “Our partnership with Wellspring and offering apprenticeships is just one example of how we can support this fight and shine a light on this darkness.”
The story of a Delta apprentice
Prior to becoming one of Delta’s apprentices, Jessica was connected to Wellspring after confiding a Delta flight attendant, Tammy, while she was still experiencing human trafficking. After this interaction, Wellspring placed Jessica at Delta to begin the apprenticeship program.
Jessica was paired with Delta’s Visual Content Team, where she met her manager, Mary. She was quickly assigned tasks to manage and jumped in with both feet, learning valuable career readiness skills from the team.
“When I started as an apprentice, I was determined to not let anything stop me from being successful,” said Jessica. “I allowed myself to be vulnerable with my team in my areas of weakness, so that I could learn and grow throughout the entire process.”
Jessica felt empowered and supported during her time at Delta. “No one at Delta ever turned me down. Everyone took the time to answer any question I had,” said Jessica.
During her time as an apprentice, Jessica also met Ausband, who took the time to listen to her story one-on-one. Still today, Ausband and Jessica continue in close contact with each other.
“Jessica is such an inspiration to me. Her story is a strong reminder of why we must get more people onboard and involved in our efforts to fight against human trafficking,” said Ausband. “I am honored to know Jessica and to call her my friend. Until each victim is free, there is more work for us to do.”
While on the Visual Content Team, Jessica improved the organization, systems and efficiency connected to Delta’s Marketing shoots and production processes. She used her skills and talents to create an inventory process, making visual props more easily accessible and organized supporting the team for future photo shoots.
In 2020, Jessica shared her story with the Delta family at the airline’s rally against human trafficking. Following the rally, she boldly shared her story from a podium at the White House Summit on Human Trafficking.
During the rally, Jessica felt inspired and encouraged by the words of Sophia Bush, anti-human trafficking activist and actor. “I continue to use her encouraging words she shared at the rally to stay focused every day,” said Jessica.
Where Jessica is today?
Since the rally and the conclusion of her apprenticeship, Jessica continues to stay close to the Delta family – staying connected with the mentors and friends that she gained during the process.
“When I got to Delta, I feared that I would be judged or labeled, however, I left loving every part of myself,” said Jessica. “Delta’s support gave me the confidence I needed to not only be confident in my current job, but in my entire career.”
Jessica has also joined the non-profit 2MyPlace, which one of her mentors at Wellspring created. 2MyPlace provides preventative and restorative services for sustainable and healthy living, through mentoring and teaching basic life and social skills, health and wellness and character building. 2MyPlace ensures that their clients have access to high quality services and resources so that recovery isn’t just possible - it is achieved. Delta’s learning designers are also supporting Jessica to create a training course for 2MyPlace.
To learn more about 2MyPlace and how you can get involved or make a donation, visit 2MyPlace.org.