A nineteen year old participant moved to Watsonville in 2014 from Mexico. Faced with barriers of very limited English language and enormous change of culture and environment this young woman was having a very difficult time adjusting to her new home. She was a top student in her classes where she lived in Mexico but she couldn’t seem to feel that way since she moved to the US. The only thing that kept her going was her goal to enter post-secondary school where she felt she could continue her education and work in programs that offer support services for youth like her.
In April of 2015 she enrolled in the Sueños Program and many times when she came in to the Sueños office she shared feeling discouraged and confused as to what her future held for her. She successfully completed her work experience internship at the Migrant Education Youth Program and is now attending Cabrillo College. Her dedication and hard work also helped her keep her job with the Migrant education program—she was hired as a permanent employee.
The young woman that walked into our office back in 2015 with a homesick heart and a longing for belongingness now walks with confidence and so much positive energy it’s contagious. Sueños staff recently checked in with her and told us, “I’m very happy. I have such a busy schedule, but I can’t complain because I’m attending school and that was exactly what I wanted to be doing.”
At 18 years of age, no work experience and a senior in high school, frustration was the word this youth used to describe her situation when she first started the Sueños Program in March of 2015. Along with frustration she was also feeling discouraged that after a year of job hunting she wasn’t able to get hired anywhere she applied because she lacked work experience.
When she entered the Sueños Program and started the 8 week Hospitality, Tourism and Customer Service Academy (HTCS) she instantly started feeling more self-confident about her abilities when it came to employment skills. She gained confidence in preparing for job interviews, counting money out of a register and providing great customer service.
Her work experience was gained at Digital Nest, a program that provides support services for youth and adults in Computer Technology. After completing 160 internship hours, her final evaluation from Digital Nest was positive and with great feedback. She exceeded their expectations in more areas than one and was subsequently hired as a permanent employee. Sueños staff asked her if she would recommend the Sueños program to other youth and young adults in our community, and she responded, “Yes, I would definitely recommend the program to youth and adults that qualify, especially if they don’t have any work experience. I think the Sueños program does a great job of providing training that helps us feel more confident and because they help with placing us in a job we will now have something to put down on our resumes as experience as well.”
Jane, a 20 year old who had dropped out of school, enrolled in the Sueños Program. With the help of Sueños staff, she also enrolled at Cabrillo College’s Digital Bridge Academy and successfully completed it. She participated in many Sueños leadership and mentoring activities. She is very interested in veterinary science and, having fulfilled her work experience placement at the Pajaro Valley Animal Shelter, continues to pursue a career in veterinary science through ROP.
Jesus’ career goal was to become a certificated pilot. He was placed at Ocean Aviation in Watsonville and paid for his flight lessons by washing planes and doing general maintenance work at the airport. Sueños and Santa Cruz County Office of Education staff assisted him with letters of recommendation and assistance in completing the Pajaro Valley Aviation Academy Scholarship Application. He received a $1,200 scholarship and has since completed his general aviation pilot’s license. He is currently employed at the Watsonville Airport and with further pilot training is looking forward to a career in aviation as a commercial pilot.
Maria completed her job shadowing at Watsonville City Hall with an administrative secretary. This evolved into a new work experience placement. After she completed her work experience hours, the City of Watsonville hired her part-time and she was inspired by her supervisor to return to school to obtain a degree in business management.
Beatriz, a 17 year old with a four year old daughter, completed the Sueños Academy and Roadmap Series, then completed her work experience at Salud Para La Gente, finished her GED, and attended Cabrillo College classes. She was very inspired by two young Latina women career speakers. One is a local attorney and was a very young mother herself. The other works at Bay Federal Credit Union and mentored and inspired Beatriz to apply for work there. She is currently employed full time there. She also completed an informational interview with an experienced social worker and is seriously considering pursuing her education to join that field of work.
Ana R. and Juan M.
These two Sueños participants completed job shadowing at Graniterock. They were then offered new work experience placements at West Marine Human Resources in marketing and accounting jobs. Ana continued on at West Marine as a paid intern during the summer and was inspired by her supervisor to take a keyboarding class at Cabrillo. Both Ana and Juan are now enrolled in college.
Elena was interested in law enforcement when she enrolled in the Sueños Program. Sueños staff assisted her in enrolling her at Cabrillo College and placed her at the Watsonville Police Department to complete her work experience. The Watsonville PD then hired her as a permanent employee.
Frank, who stopped going to school in 8th grade, completed the Roadmap Series sponsored by the Sueños Program. He completed a 7-hour job shadowing at Dominican Hospital ER, and was mentored by a male nurse and the ER supervising nurse. At the ER he dressed in scrubs and helped patients who, along with the ER staff, thought he was already part of the ER team! This student also completed three semesters at Cabrillo College and became an accomplished student leader and the main student recruiter for the Cabrillo College Digital Bridge Academy. He attended the Leon Panetta Leadership Institute and the Workforce Investment Act Conference in Anaheim as youth representative. He is currently employed as a student intern at Cabrillo College and the Teen Peer Court Program. He is a well-known student mentor in the Watsonville area and has referred many young people to the Sueños Program.