Check out this article from the newsletter of our partner—Los Angeles Unified School District’s Division of Adult & Career Education (DACE)—featuring Liliana Aparicio, who is an LAUSD student on-site at PUENTE as well as a parent in our Charter School. #PUENTEstories

A New Beginning

DACE has many success stories, but the speed by which it helps non-English speakers is perhaps its most visibly dramatic. One of those successes is Liliana Aparicio, 38, who is married, lives in Los Angeles and – in early 2017 – spoke only Spanish. She was also unemployed. “I was a little depressed – or at least a little wary about my life,” Aparicio said. “I thought _it would be too hard for me to learn English: ‘I will never be able to speak to people, let alone well enough to work.”‘ But she enrolled in DACE’s ESL program and it was there, in her final phase, she met teacher Vicky Broccolo, who was promoting a summer introductory class for pharmacy technicians.

“Liliana made an impression on me because during my presentation, she was taking notes and asked a lot of questions about the summer program,” Broccolo recalled. Aparicio remembers it similarly. “The teacher said, ‘Try it – it’s just for one month,”‘ she said. “I took the course for one month and I liked it. So I enrolled in the pharmacy tech program in the fall.” The career training classes ran 10 weeks and were followed by an eight-week externship at the nearby Walgreens pharmacy – after which Aparicio was licensed by the California State Board of Pharmacy.

In fact, the overall convenience – combined with the low cost – were big selling points to Aparicio. “Walgreens is close to the school and the school is close to home – it was so easy to get to,” Aparicio said. “And I didn’t work, so my husband paid for my career training, but we were able to [afford] it.”
Since graduating, Aparicio continues to work on her English and the school continues to help her find a job in her field. “Liliana is very bright and enthusiastic,” Broccolo said. “She was recently interviewed for a job at Lorena Pharmacy and the owner of the pharmacy called to thank me for sending him such a wonderful candidate. They are sorting out the details of when she will start working, but it will most likely be next week.” When Aparicio began her journey with DACE, the change she was making in her life dawned on her only gradually. “At first I was, like, ‘What? I can do smile. “And now I did it!”