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STUDENT PROFILE: Elizabeth -Taller San Jose Hope Builders

Elizabeth personifies the personal and professional transformations OC Pathway’s support made possible this past year.

Elizabeth applied to Taller San Jose Hope Builders looking for a chance to change her life. Growing up in Santa Ana, her parents worked minimum-wage jobs and struggled to support their family. A few weeks into her senior year she dropped out of High School to work full-time and help make ends meet.

At 25 years old, Elizabeth was working two jobs and recalls “I wanted to continue my education but didn’t know how or where to start. Fortunately, I found Hope Builders, which has provided me with the training and support to get my dream job.”

Elizabeth enrolled in the Clinical Medical Assisting Training Program and thrived in the structured and professional environment. With the help of her Hope Builders case manager, Elizabeth continues to achieve the goals she set forth at the start of her training. This past year, she earned her High School diploma and studied to become a certified phlebotomist.

Today, Elizabeth is working as a medical assistant at Share Our Selves, earning $16/hour with full benefits and plans to continue her education in the medical field. “Thanks to Hope Builders I am a better person. I can better support my family and will be able to help others.”


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Luke enrolled in the Orange County Workforce Development Board’s Young Adult Career Program as a disabled youth attending Brea Olinda High School. Luke was having trouble finding employment and graduating high school. Being very shy, applying to jobs was overwhelming to Luke. Luke received one on one tutoring to work on assignments he wasn’t able to complete on his own. As a result of program participation Luke obtained his high school diploma from Brea Olinda High School. Luke’s completion of the Young Adult Career Program’s work readiness component prepared Luke to begin his work experience. Luke expressed interest in a career as an auto mechanic and was placed at the La Habra City Yard assisting the city mechanics with yard duties. Through the program he received supportive services to help purchase his work attire. While completing his work experience, with the encouragement and referral of program staff, Luke enrolled at Hacienda La Puente Adult Education’s Automotive Technology Program. He is currently working to obtain his Auto-Mechanic Certificate. Luke was hired by the City of La Habra and is now working part time in the Facilities Department. Luke is very grateful to have received the individualized assistance he needed to gain occupational skills. With the assistance of program staff he was able to receive help and gain the confidence required to be successful in the labor market.

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Rebecca enrolled in the Orange County Workforce Development Board’s Young Adult Career Program because she was struggling to attend school and find employment. Rebecca graduated from Caesar Chavez High School in Cypress and was attending post-secondary school at Everest College/CNI College in Tustin to complete the Medical Assistant Certificate Program. While attending post-secondary school, Rebecca struggled to secure basic necessities such as food, clothing, transportation, and scrubs for her unpaid externship at a local clinic. The program was able to assist her in providing supportive services to help alleviate the cost of some of her necessities. Rebecca was able to complete workshops to improve her knowledge of time management, conflict resolution, and professional etiquette. She received guidance in creating a resume and interview skills. With the program’s help, Rebecca was able to complete the Medical Assistant Program, obtained a certificate, and passed the Medical Exam. With the encouragement of the staff Rebecca has more confidence to focus on longer term goals, such as working in the Healthcare field as a Medical Assistant and eventually to become a Surgery Technician.

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Code Girl

Valencia High School senior Sana Talwar was featured in the documentary CodeGirl. Earlier this year, she responded to the Technovation Challenge and for 16 weeks, worked with her team mentored by Valencia teacher Natasha Ulibarri on determining which community cause they wanted to solve by developing an app prototype. Posted by Dough Schultz PYLUSD


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The win -win for Business /Education Partnerships

This past summer, 8 students form Santa Ana Unified School District were afforded an opportunity of a life time by participating in paid internships at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena. Perhaps you’ve been following the story of eight high school students from Santa Ana who earned the rare opportunity to be paid interns at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. This opportunity was only realized through the generous financial support provided by OpTerra Energy System. with Offices in the Bay area and Orange county, OpTerra understands the positive return on investment when they support business/ education partnerships.

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JPL SpaceSHIP Summer Internship from Orange County Dept. of Education on Vimeo.

NEPRIS: Leveraging Technology to Increase Work-Based Learning Opportunities

We all know that providing pathway students with work-based learning opportunities is extremely important. We’ve made it a key priority in the OC Pathways year 2 workplan! If you add up the number of Orange county students in pathways at the secondary and post-secondary level, we have over 21,000 individuals who need support in acquiring a work based learning experience. This is a major challenge but we’re pursuing innovative strategies to ensure that we fulfill this critical obligation to pathway students in Orange County. One exciting initiative under way is the large scale adoption of a virtual mentoring and field trip platform called Nepris. Nepris is a cloud-based social platform that helps teachers find, match and connect with industry professionals around the world to bring real world relevance to classrooms.
This past spring, Orange Unified School District, under the leadership of Kathy Boyd, piloted Nepris and it was a home run! Students and teachers loved it. Using OC Pathways funds we have purchased site licenses for all pathway educators in our secondary and post-secondary programs. Plans for educator training are underway; details will be announced soon.
The success of Nepris of course hinges on our collective ability to identify industry professionals who are willing to serve as virtual mentors or to facilitate virtual field trips. Consequently, we need everyone to start identifying potential industry collaborators. Congratulations and thanks to Amy Kaufman who is leading the effort to make Nepris an important tool in our work-based learning toolkit and Omar Shepard from OCDE who has enthusiastically agreed to coordinate our launch efforts!

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OC MAKER CHALLENGE – Sparking Innovation

The intent of this project is to provide our diverse Orange County secondary and post-secondary student populations, with an opportunity to participate in an integrated STEM design project. The Maker Challenge will deliver an authentic experience and creative environment that combines STEM technologies, Art and Design in a culture of inquiry, problem solving, and active engagement. Students are challenged to identify a unique problem, document solutions and present a prototype.

The learning model for this project is to provide context for the convergence of academics, hands-on creativity and application of 21st Century skills. It will appeal to active learners and support higher order thinking skills and real-life problem solving. Students will undertake a self-directed open-ended design project within the framework of minimal published constraints. These constraints will include the intentional identification of STEM concepts in their original creations while accessing and infusing new technologies. Projects will showcase mastery of communication and critical thinking skills as students collaboratively generate insightful discussions based on extensive background reading and research. Important underpinnings of the Maker Challenge are an intentional focus on the new Common Core State Standards in Math, English Language Arts and the Next Generation Science Standards. The mastery of these standards will be assessed and showcased in the presentation of a Design Brief, graphic media, documentation of STEM research and physical prototypes of their creation.

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Ammar went into the counseling office at Woodbridge High School in Irvine out of desperation due to having filled out many job applications with no response. Ammar was referred to the Orange County Workforce Development Board’s Young Adult Career Program and expressed his interest in the pharmaceutical industry. Ammar and his mother moved from Syria to the United States in hopes of a better life, but they found great difficulty finding employment because of the language barrier. In Syria, Ammar’s mother owned her own pharmacy and Ammar worked at the pharmacy since he was young.

The Young Adult Career Program helped Ammar with interview and occupational skills. Through supportive services Ammar obtained bus passes, clothes, shoes, and basic necessities needed to find employment. The Young Adult Career Program’s job developer worked on finding him a placement in a pharmaceutical environment to coincide with the experience he had obtained.

Ammar was given the opportunity to interview at CVS. Initially being very nervous about the interview, Ammar received guidance and assistance from the program which resulted in a successful interview and acceptance to complete his work experience at CVS. With hard work and willingness to learn, Ammar was hired on permanently. Working part-time and going to school he was able to graduate high school, enrolled at Irvine Valley College where he received an Associate’s Degree, and subsequently transferred to Cal State Fullerton.

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FUNDING: Federal Government’s CS For All $4 billion initiative

the White house just announced this incredible initiative that underscores the importance of efforts underway in Orange County related to the ICT pathway.

“Computer Science for All is the President’s bold new initiative to empower all American students from kindergarten through high school to learn computer science and be equipped with the computational thinking skills they need to be creators in the digital economy, not just consumers, and to be active citizens in our technology-driven world. Our economy is rapidly shifting, and both educators and business leaders are increasingly recognizing that computer science (CS) is a “new basic” skill necessary for economic opportunity and social mobility.”