Detour Worth Making
College Employee Finishes Northwood University atCerritos College BA Program
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:July 24, 2008
Media Contact:Aya Abelon, Public Affairs; (562) 860-2451 ext. 2287
NORWALK, Calif. - July 24, 2008 - For Rose Vasquez, the detour she took in education was definitely worth sticking out. Born in Mexico, she came to California with her parents and her five siblings when she was 12 years old. She is the second oldest of the six and the first one to get a college degree.
After she graduated from Artesia High School, she wanted to become a nurse. She was pre-admitted to the University of California, Irvine; however the program counselor told her to take English classes at a community college since her English was not strong. Her first reaction was, “Where are the local community colleges?” She asked for help at her high school career center, and a recruiter from Cerritos College EOPS personally drove her to the college and took her around the campus.
It was when she was almost done with the English prerequisite that her mother was hospitalized. Caring for her mother in a hospital, she realized that hospital is not the place she wanted to be at every day. After taking some career assessments she found out that the business major was more suitable for her personality and abilities since she always liked working with numbers and data.
When she started taking English classes at Cerritos College, she also started working part-time as a career center assistant at the college. She worked as an hourly without benefits for 11 years and eventually got a position as Program Assistant II. Since then she’s been acting as the office operations person for the Career Services Department. July 2008 is the 20-year anniversary of her Cerritos College employment.
She started her bachelor’s program in business at California State University, Fullerton in 1991. At CSUF she chose accounting as a concentration. Working full-time at Cerritos College and part-time off campus to support her family and pay for school, she was very close to finishing the school. One day, a few months shy from completing the degree, she had a car accident and had to stop going to school. Then soon after the accident, she got married and had her first son. Clearly, education had to be put on hold for a while.
During the years Vasquez worked at Cerritos College, her co-workers including Dean of Counseling Renee Chomiak, Director of Career and Assessment Services Terrie Lopez and Counseling Professor David Young kept encouraging her to finish her degree.
When Northwood University began offering a program which allows students to earn bachelor’s degree in business administration while at Cerritos College, she thought this was it. She researched the program accreditation and contents, and thought it was worth the money. Plus it couldn’t get any more convenient – she could work and study at the same place. Time was more valuable than anything else for Vasquez. She even compared the costs of attending other state universities and Northwood, and decided to enroll at Northwood in September 2006 as one of the inaugural class of this new program. She was able to transfer some, but not all of the 15-year-old units from CSUF since the requirements and curriculum have changed over last decade. Looking at the positive side, she got to experience business programs 15 years ago and now. “Technology has advanced significantly since 1990’s and I see more interactivity and multimedia use in the classroom now,” she observes.
The accelerated 6-week sessions at Northwood were hard, but she enjoyed the real-life work experiences that the Northwood professors brought to the classes. “Their practical and up-to-date insights are something you can’t learn in books,” she said. Having instructors who’ve been out in the field for quite a long time and who can point out what’s more important in the real world was invaluable to Vasquez. The class size was reasonably small with the largest she had being 12 students in one class. “We had more interactions with the instructors and the instructors could pay more attention to each student,” she said.
When she was almost done with the Northwood program, another misfortune struck her. Her grandmother got sick in the end of last year and passed away in January this year. And that was not all. Following his wife, her grandfather passed away in February. Not only had she had to go back and forth between California and Mexico, she was emotionally torn and saddened by the losses of loved ones.
However, she had no intention of repeating the mishap at CSUF. Dropping out of school when she was this close to finishing was not an option anymore. She closely communicated with her instructors and managed to pass the classes even in the midst of the tragedy. Juggling work, family and the adversity, Vasquez completed the program in amazing one and a half years.
Vasquez moved to Riverside last December. Now degree in hand, she is ready to take on new challenges. Coming from the EOPS Summer Bridge program, she wants to give back to other disadvantaged students. She is interested in helping students at EOPS or Financial Aid. “I remember sitting in the quad crying when I found out that I didn’t qualify for financial aid,” says Vasquez. “I don’t want the students to go through what I did.”
For more information of the Northwood University BBA program at Cerritos College, call (562) 653-7852 or visit www.cerritos.edu/northwood.
Cerritos College serves as a comprehensive community college for southeastern Los Angeles County. Communities within the college’s district include Artesia, Bellflower, Cerritos, Downey, Hawaiian Gardens, La Mirada, Norwalk, and portions of Bell Gardens, Lakewood, Long Beach, Santa Fe Springs and South Gate. Cerritos College offers degrees and certificates in more than 200 areas of study in nine divisions. Annually, more than 1,200 students successfully complete their course of studies, and enrollment currently nears 20,000 students. Visit Cerritos College online at www.cerritos.edu.