Call center grad comes up ACEs

Makiah Duffy (left) celebrates ACE graduation with classmates, as Urban League job placement specialist Rahman Shabazz snaps a selfie. Urban League photo/Mark Curnutte

Makiah Duffy (left) celebrates ACE graduation with classmates, as Urban League job placement specialist Rahman Shabazz snaps a selfie. Urban League photo/Mark Curnutte


Makiah Duffy’s bright smile, not her eyes, were the window to her soul Thursday at the Urban League.

Just 19 and a 2013 graduate of Holmes High School in Covington, the first female in her family to complete high school, Duffy had completed the League’s Accelerated Call Center Program (ACE) — it was graduation day — and sensed that she had entered a new part of her young life.

She hadn’t been over-talkative and giggle too much in the class, like many recent high school graduates, said ACE trainer Teri Dixon, yet Duffy and her classmates still brought youthful energy and hope to the four-week job-readiness course.

Duffy had reason to smile. She’d held three jobs through a temp service since graduating high school and had been laid off twice when work expired. She’d earned as much as $11 an hour. Yet that hit-or-miss situation was no longer for her.

“I would think, `I have too much talent and potential for this,'” she said. “I wanted a career.”

She has reason to want more. She grew up as one of 15 children in her household. Her mother’s 15 children have nine fathers, none of whom are in their children’s lives. Duffy’s biggest cheerleader is her mother, whom, Duffy said, tells her all the time, “Don’t make the mistakes I have made.”

Duffy is the sixth of the 15, the youngest of whom is 2. She has had to stay home as a caregiver.

“I couldn’t hang out with my friends and I wondered if God was punishing me,” she said. “But I have seen my mom trying to make her life better. I know God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle, so I always did my best.”

Still, circumstances continued to pull her back, even during her first week in the League’s call center-customer service program.

“That first week, we had our electric and water cut off,” Duffy said. “My grandmother had to have heart surgery. I told Miss Teri that I couldn’t go on.

“But she told me, `You have to keep going and keep your head up. Your mom is counting on you.”

That pep talk helped Duffy over the rough start, and Thursday she graduated with 13 classmates and is lining up interview with three employers, including the Westin Hotel, Downtown. In her graduation remarks — when she received her certification of completion — Duffy thanked her classmates, Dixon and League job placement specialist Rahman “Rocky” Shabazz. After they ate lunch provided by the League, Duffy and three of her friends posed for a selfie snapped by Shabazz.

Duffy wants to establish her career before marrying or having a child, “not before 30,” she said.

Her goal is to start her own business, one that provides services to young girls and boys who lack guidance and opportunity.

“I know how it feels,” she said.


Accelerated Call Center Program was established in 2004 to meet the demand for workers at 63 call centers located throughout the region. The four-week program, developed by Leadership Cincinnati Class XXVIIII, features customized training to provide graduates a base onto which they can build a stable employment history.

Each year, about 200 people — about 90 percent female — are enrolled in ACE; 90 percent graduate. And 75 percent of graduates are placed in jobs. Starting salary in 2014 was $11 an hour. The economic impact of ACE graduates in one year is $4.4 million.

For more information, contact Teri Dixon at (513) 281-9955.

These Companies are Transformational Supporters of the Urban League’s Corporate Heritage Annual Giving Program.