Charles Lea


Feeling like he couldn’t confide in anyone about his depression, Charles turned to DOR to help him look for employment and gained not only employment, but financial and emotional support.




Charles - I think up until before I came into the DOR and became a consumer of the program, I really experienced a lot of challenges both personal and academic.


I’m the only black male of my program among faculty and among students. Going through this program for the past five and a half years has been a very isolating experience. I think with that and the lack of support that I really needed to move myself forward just put me in that little place and it just made it really hard. In addition to trying to manage my financial expenses. It's LA it so it's really expensive here especially trying to be a student. I’ve been struggling on and off as I mentioned with the depression. Trying to manage the things that I can on my own and it was just really hard. There were days where I would just lay in bed and couldn't get out couldn't do anything. I wasn't making any progress, most of my attention was going towards trying to find employment and school was dragging along and the experiences that I had within my program didn't help with that as well.


I feel like I’ve been placed in settings where I’ve always been the only one and because I’ve been the only one, I’ve been afforded opportunities that maybe others haven’t. Yet with that, I feel that as a result I've had to work harder in the sense to where I can't show any signs of weakness and I can't let anyone down. When there have been experiences where I'm dealing with my depression, I'm not able to really disclose that or to really identify, someone that I could receive some support from. Especially being the only one it's for one hard to trust others outside of your racial ethnic group in many settings especially when you’re the only one. Two, in professional settings you’re not sure how others are going to be received by that. Things that are personal, I tend to keep personal in professional settings, but when it start to clash it makes it a really big challenge to deal with which makes the depression in some instances worse. But I think that because I am a black male I feel like I've had to work harder. I think that to obtain certain things in some instances but or to be respected or to be recognized on the same level as others and that in many instances causes so much pressure because you always want to do well. And again, you don't want to show any signs of weakness or that you're incompetent or anything like that. I think that that creates a lot of anxiety for myself which perpetuates the depression and insomnia and many different things. It's just it's a ripple effect. I think. It sucks.


Coming into this program and then getting the support that I need to move forward, that's really helping me. I think with just lifting my spirits, being more optimistic about the future, in addition to allowing me to be able to take advantage of opportunities that I may not have had, the ability to do on my own.


It just feels good to have to know that you have some extra support and going on that job market. It was great. I was able to share some of the great things that were happening with my counselor.

She would tell me of other supports that they could provide that might be useful to ensure that I was able to get a job and I actually did end up getting a job throughout this process. My counselor was one of the first persons I thank about that. I let her know along the way about where I was getting interviews and what I was doing.