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Monthly Archives: January 2017

Alumni Highlight: Ismael’s Story

Ismael Esparza wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father, who worked as a car mechanic for 20 years for the Ford Motor Co. in Mexico.

Esparza, 39, worked as a mechanic at Strictly Automotive from 2011-13. But at the same time, he wanted to learn new skills, such as electricity and drivability, in order to advance in his profession. So he simultaneously studied in the automotive program at Emily Griffith Technical College, graduating in 2013. After that he worked at Kia and Lexus dealerships for another two years.

“The school means a lot to me,” said Esparza, who also has been employed in apartment maintenance. “When I came to the school, I was laid off from work and I was unemployed,” prior to joining Strictly Automotive. “The state unemployment office enrolled me in the school.

“At first, I was paying for my classes and my tuition and books. The lady that enrolled me in the program told me, ‘You know, we offer free tuition classes from here, or you can apply to the government and they can help you to pay for your tuition.’”

Esparza applied to the FAHSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) program. He was accepted, and FAHSA eventually reimbursed Esparza for what he had paid for tuition out of pocket.

“It changed my life to the better,” he said of EGTC. “I always knew about the cars, working with my dad. But when I came to this country, I didn’t have the opportunity to work on cars. I always had it in my mind that I wanted to go back to that.”

Still, by 2015, he needed to make a change. “I liked being a mechanic, but I was working too many hours and […]

Alumni Highlight: Toi’s Story

Toi Alegria loves to cook. In fact, she’d like to cook for you and teach you how to prepare meals in your own kitchen.

At 46, she’s seeking a new way of life after working as a nanny for 20 years and raising her children. “I went back to school to change my career,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed cooking; it’s my passion. I want to have my own business.”

Alegria is a June 2016 graduate of the culinary arts program at Emily Griffith Technical College. Food production and Safe Serve practices were among the many subjects she studied; the latter covers such topics as proper booking temperatures, labeling and covering food.

“Most restaurants want you to have the Safe Serve certificate,” said Alegria, who also trained at the school’s ground-floor Emily’s Café. She also worked for three months at the Northern Shores restaurant at the Denver Zoo, preparing such food as pizzas, calzones, fries, garlic knots and homemade marinara sauce.
“I love it; it’s so beautiful there,” Alegria said. “And people are so good there.”

She lives near Buckley Air Force Base and sees a built-in audience. “There’s a huge market where I live,” Alegria said. “There’s a lot of older, retired military people, and they need that kind of help around here.”

She spent the summer practicing new recipes and babysitting her grandson. He’ll return to school in late August. Once she overcomes back problems, she plans to relaunch her business, which has two parts: Home cooking lessons and personal chef services.

Alegria did home teaching before her back acted up. Her customers chose recipes to work on; Alegria helped them to shop online for all ingredients, which King Soopers delivered. Then she would show them how to prepare […]

Alumni Highlight: Adriana’s Story

Adriana Romero Gonzalez squeezed the most out of her experience at Emily Griffith Technical College.
Gonzalez, 18, who just graduated from West High School, pursued TWO courses of study at EGTC: aesthetician and Certified Nurse Assistant. That’s an unusual combination on the surface –- but Gonzalez has a plan.

By combining the two skill sets, “You can work in a medical setting, such as a medical spa or dermatologist’s office,” said Gonzales, who will enter CU-Denver this fall. “I ended up liking both of those programs very much.”

At CU-Denver, she will major in business administration, with an emphasis on marketing and accounting.
In the aesthetician program, she studied facials, waxing, lashes, microdermabrasion, chemical peels and more. She entered the program Aug. 28, 2015 and finished it in July.

Gonzalez hopes to take the certification tests in both fields in late August.

In the concurrent enrollment situation, West paid for Gonzalez’s EGTC classes.

“I want to take my boards and get my license, and use my CNA and aesthetics certifications to explore the medical field a little bit,” Gonzalez said. “I want to use aesthetics to get a better job, whether at a spa or medical spa, to help me pay for college.”

She had an exhausting schedule in her senior year. She attended West from 7:45-11:45 a.m., then headed over to EGTC, where she attended the Certified Nurse Assistant program from noon-4 p.m. and the aesthetics classes from 5-9 p.m.

“Emily Griffith was a school that provided me the opportunity for growth, not just academic progress but also personal growth,” Gonzalez said. “You interact with all kinds of people all the time. You get to explore different fields. A lot of the things I learned here I can apply in other classes.

“For […]