Adult education gave Martin a chance to change careers. After completing the Nurse Assistant program at Porterville Adult School and being licensed by the State, he started working at a small nursing home in Shafter, CA. “That was in 1999 and I’ve been at this center ever since.”
“In 2003, I became the activity director for the center. I soon realized the job wasn’t medical enough. I wanted to be more on the medical side. I had always said I would ‘never be a nurse’ but the longer I was a nurse assistant the more connected to healthcare, especially geriatrics, I became,” he said.
Two things happened in early 2003 to spur Martin on to the next rung on the ladder of his healthcare career. Bakersfield Adult School was just starting its first Vocational Nurse (VN) Program that fall, and one of his co-workers was registered in the program.
Martin says, “This was the answer to my prayers. I looked into going to Bakersfield College, but their classes didn’t fit in with my work schedule, and I had to work to support myself. At BAS the classes were designed to work around my schedule.” A huge hurdle, however, was taking care of the prerequisites for starting the VN program. In just a few short months, Martin had to take all the prerequisites at once while working full time. Of that time, he recalls: “Studying was – and still is – my life. Getting into the VN program was a goal that I had and this [taking the prerequisites] was what I had to do to achieve my goal. I had to do the work.”
Two teachers stand out in Martin’s recollection of the VN program: Carolyn Santiago, his clinical instructor, and Kathleen Bruce, who taught the Anatomy and Physiology class. “Both were excellent and demanding, but they had very different teaching styles. Ms. Santiago was very nurturing and walked with you every step of the way. Ms. Bruce was upfront and let us know right away that she was demanding and expected us to do our best in her class.” Each teacher in her own way inspired Mr. Brown to give 110% to his studies.
Martin credits adult education and studies in health for making him more responsible and to look at people at a different level. “I find I am more compassionate, and this is especially important when working with older patients.”
Today, Martin is the Director of Staff Development for the nursing facility. A recent change in job descriptions requires that he become a registered nurse, so he finds himself on the next rung of the ladder. However, instead of taking an RN class, he’s decided to earn a Bachelor’s degree in nursing, which will open more doors for him in the future. He laughs as he says: “Who knows, I might find myself teaching a class in BAS’s VN program. At our graduation, one of the BAS administrators suggested I come back some time to teach at the adult school and I just might do that.”
Her first desire was to come to Bakersfield Adult school for her Typing Certificate and to get an office job somewhere but soon realized that the adult school had so much to offer to help her enter a career in business. Sarina has completed 11 classes at BAS and while taking the Simulated Office Development class, a job was posted for a county job. With the skills that she had obtained from the adult school, she applied and was hired. She is now realizing the importance of education and is currently working and finishing her accounting 2 class here at Bakersfield Adult School and has also returned to Bakersfield College.
No one is more surprised in her interest in medicine than our nominee, Lauren. As a freshman in high school, she started in the health careers academy with the idea that she would go into nursing. However, just a bit into it, she decided nursing was not for her. . . too much work; she dropped out of the academy. Back in the traditional class schedule, Lauren found herself struggling with school. Her reasons were varied, but mostly she didn’t like the structure and the studying. “That’s why I am so shocked I’m into school now,” says Lauren.
The additional surprise is that Lauren, age 22, really enjoys being involved in the Vocational Nursing Program at Bakersfield Adult School. What accounts for this change of heart was the week and a half she spent in the hospital during her junior year of high school. “Going through the surgery and seeing the importance of the work that nurses do make a big impact on me.”
Lauren still had some work ahead of her in order to graduate from high school. However, now she had the beginnings of a goal in mind that would sustain her until she earned her high school diploma in June 2003.
Lauren came to Bakersfield Adult School in 2005 and says the adult school is giving her the foundation she needs to continue reaching her goal. She enrolled in the Nurse Assistant program, which she successfully completed before taking the state certification test. While at the adult school she also completed other coursework as a prerequisite to nursing school. She is now enrolled in the adult school’s Vocational Nurse program.
In addition to the time she spends both in the classroom and at the clinical site, Lauren is also working as a CNA at a local hospital. This is a lot of work, but she is diligent in keeping up with all these commitments, plus volunteering at the local museum.
“Having already become a CNA enables me to earn the money I need so I can be self-supporting and continue my education. Once I become licensed as a vocational nurse, I will use that training to pay for the rest of my nurse’s training. Somewhere along the line, during my time in the BAS nursing program, I have changed my goal a little bit. Originally I planned to become a registered nurse, now I want to be a physician’s assistant. I want to go higher in medicine. I found my calling and enjoy learning more about nursing [and other aspects of medicine]”, says California Adult Education Students Success Lauren. “My ultimate goal now is to get my bachelor’s degree, which I need to be a physician’s assistant. I am looking at Davis and Stanford.” Lauren says she still faces the challenge of fitting everything in, but her priorities are school and work. She continues, “It’s hard finding the time for family and friends, but they are very supportive.”
Life is very different for Victor Lopez today than it was in 1961, when he came to Bakersfield, California, at the age of 16. Sitting in a quiet corner of his restaurant, he recalled what it was like for him when he was growing up. “Both my father and my grandfather worked in the fields. Also, many of my brothers and sisters were in the fields, “recalls Victor about his family life, which was far from ideal. “My grandfather was my foundation and inspiration. Somehow we were able to come to the U. S. so we could get ahead and have a better life.”
When he first arrived, like other Mexicans, Victor got work in the fields. “I was very happy in the fields,” says Victor, until he realized he wanted more in life than he could have if he didn’t make a change. He came to the Bakersfield Adult School (BAS) to learn English, which he says is most important if you want to prosper in America.
At age 20, Victor made two major decisions in his life that decided his future path: he would go to school and he would be a good father. His growing-up years were difficult and he wanted to be sure he would be a better father for his children than his own father had been for him.
Victor’s life was very hectic during his time at BAS; he was working in the fields, training as a boxer, and going to school. “This time was most challenging for me. I had a full schedule every day. Between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m., I was either training as a boxer at the local gym, in the fields working, working at a local restaurant as a busboy, or going to school,” Victor recalls. It was difficult to do all these things, but each activity helped achieve a goal he set for himself. “I look for challenges in my life, and I really like having structure in my life. I realize that discipline and hard work are the keys to success in anything you do. I remember that learning to speak English at the Adult School gave me confidence in everything else I was doing in life. It really raised my self-esteem.”
Following graduation, Victor continued working in restaurants. There were many times when he wondered if restaurant life was for him. “It was very hard at first. Everything was so new to me. But I worked my way up from busboy to being a waiter. It was while working at El Torito, a Mexican restaurant chain, that Victor decided he wanted to change from being a waiter to going into management. “The manager at El Torito asked me why I wanted to do that. I was making excellent tip money waiting on tables. I was good at being a waiter, and I really liked it. He told me I would not be making as much money in management as I was making as a waiter. I understood that, but I saw that being a manager would give me better future opportunities. I was willing to give up some of the money to move forward. Also, I wanted to take advantage of the training I could get through El Torito, which provided management classes for their managers. “ This decision added more challenges to Victor and caused him to revise his thinking. Because of his heavier work schedule, he was not able to keep up with the high school diploma classes. However, rather than quit altogether, he pursued his GED, instead.
In 1990, Victor decided it was time to go out on his own by opening his own restaurant, El Adobe. “Restaurants are the hardest kind of business to get off the ground. Banks don’t want to lend you money without a lot of red tape. However, we were able to start up, and we’ve been here for 14 years,” says Victor. “BAS gave me the English and other academic knowledge I needed, and EL Torito gave me the experience to manage a restaurant successfully, so I feel really blessed and very lucky to have these chances in my life. I believe in doing best in whatever you do and sooner or later you will be recognized.” On November 20, 2004, Victor was the keynote speaker at the annual Out-of-School Youth Conference at California State University, Bakersfield. During his remarks, he talked about how important education is to a person’s success in life.
Victor is successful in his life because he’s established short and long term goals for himself and he has achieved them. He feels “very blessed” because he has been able to make a success of his business, have a wonderful family, and be a good father to his children.
A graduate from the K.H.S.D., Michelle's dream is to be a teacher. The T.A. Class has given her the experience of working alongside a teacher and interacting with students. She is currently employed as a Teacher Assistant and is continuing her education at B.C. to become a teacher.