"I wasn't sure I could finish school, but thankfully I did."
When Maria Teresa Urbina took her adult education placement test at Mid-City Center, she knew she had to start somewhere, but she never imagined she'd embarked on a path to a promising career.
A year later, in 1997, after taking adult basic education classes Maria earned her GED. Already showing a knack for computer skills, she returned to Mid-City to learn more about Macintosh computers.
"I started learning office skills and computers at the center," Maria says. "Then I went upstairs and started learning Excel and other PC applications." Maria was soon referred to the electronic printing program at the Educational Cultural Complex, where she studied pre-press graphics.
"I loved that class," Maria says. "It helped me combine my love for computers with my love for printing."
Each weekday Maria escorted her children to school then walked all the way to ECC for this job training. The vocational programs typically start early in the morning, so Maria was able to finish class in time to be home to supervise her children after school. It wasn't until they were tucked into bed that Maria was able to crack open her textbooks and study.
Nevertheless, she successfully completed her training and was hired by Diego and Son Printing in San Diego, where she was soon promoted to a full-time position as an electronic print press operator. "It's a good job, and I'm very happy to have it," Maria says.
Diego Aguilera, the shop's owner, says Maria learns very fast. "The new age of computers is here, and Maria understands the latest developments," he says. "We're lucky to have her."
The gainful employment comes after Maria, who came to the United States when she was very young, struggled to pay for schooling, juggle motherhood with education and learn complex new subjects.
"There was a time not long ago when I was walking over hills to school every day," she says. "I'm so grateful that I was able to complete what I had set out to do."
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