“Before coming to Grossmont College’s Office Professional Training Program (OPT), I did not have much experience in the world of education. Twice I tried going to college because that’s what everyone does in this society but I didn’t have much luck, mainly because I couldn’t see the benefits of it. I saw school as a waste of my time; I could have been working and earning an income for myself, not deteriorating in a classroom.
At the time I truly believed that a job was more important than an education because that is what was shown me. When my father was sober he would work, when he worked there was a roof over our head and food in the cupboards. But when dad drank he would lose his job and, in turn, lose everything else.
With a job comes money and with money comes a place to sleep, food to eat, and bills that get paid. This is what I knew because this is what was taught me and I was fine with that… until I had my two little girls.
Children have a strange way of changing everything. Suddenly I didn’t want the dead end job working weekends or the manual labor that gave me an injured knee at age 18. I didn’t want that anymore and, more importantly, I didn’t want my babies to have that.
OPT helped me to get away from that. The Office Professional Training Program gave me more than an education, it gave me the means and knowledge to break my father’s damaged cycle. This program helped me to grow as a person and showed me that I have the ability to achieve something significant.
Thanks to the OPT staff I am now working for G.S. Levine Insurance Services and learning the ins and outs of the company. My duties range from helping producers with prospects to managing phones. By way of this position I now have the means to give things to my family I never thought I could, like health insurance and college funds!
As a spouse I am doing my share to provide stability for my family. As a mother I am giving my girls a positive example of what an education can do. I’m proud of where I am in my life and I couldn’t have done it without OPT.”
-- Victoria Stewart, Graduate of Grossmont College’s Office Professional Training Program
The Grossmont College’s Office Professional Training (OPT) program serves unemployed individuals who have been laid off or home with family members or they’ve changed careers or need to start one. I spoke with Mary Leslie, the Lead Instructor of OPT about the program:
“They come to us to update their skills. We put them through one very intense semester where they take 7-9 classes learning Microsoft Office programs like Word and Excel as well as classes on Business English, effective job search, office procedures and keyboarding. Students choose to major in accounting, banking, insurance, or office support.”
Women Give San Diego has granted $15,500 for two years to help the Foundation for Grossmont and Cuyamaca Colleges support the Office Professional Training program, specifically to underwrite the salary of the program’s counselor, Laurel Klotz.
A key component to the program’s success is Laurel Klotz, who is a licensed Marriage and Family Counselor and has served as the Office Professional Training program’s counselor for over 12 years. Ms. Leslie comments: “We were lucky to find her”. Laurel meets with the students (both individually and as a group) regularly, providing personal/crisis counseling to help the students recognize and overcome barriers to their academic and employment success. She provides time management strategies to students who are often juggling a family, school, and unemployment. Depending on the students’ needs, Laurel connects her students to resources and outside agencies. Sometimes students need food for their family, transportation to and from school or childcare while they are taking classes. And sometimes they just need someone to talk to. Ultimately, Laurel’s help retains students in the program.
Although she thinks it sounds like a cliché, Mary Leslie really believes that:
“the program is not a hand out, it’s a hand up. If the students commit to this intensive program for one semester, they can really do anything. When people become unemployed, they lose their confidence. OPT helps them regain it.”
The OPT program not only provides them an education and necessary office skills, it prepares them emotionally for the workplace. As students receive good grades in their classes, they realize they are worthy and can make a difference for an employer. Through the program, they are introduced to new fields in the work world, ultimately setting them up to attain a career, not just another dead end job. Although many will still start in an entry level position, with their OPT education, they are able to excel to higher positions within this career, ultimately enabling them to achieve self-sufficiency for their families.
If you would like to get more involved with Grossmont College’s Office Professional Training program, you can participate in a number of upcoming events:
· Clothing Boutique on Saturday, April 21
· Walk-a-Thon on Saturday, May 5
· Graduation on Friday, June 1
Please contact Mary Leslie directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org.