Student Spotlight: Rachel Orona, SIATech Inland Empire

December 5, 2011

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My Story of Getting Back On Track: An Essay from a SIATech Inland Empire Graduate

by Rachel Orona

Before I came to the Inland Empire Job Corps Center my life was just a black hole. I was just another poor young Latina girl from a messed up family, with no bright future and going nowhere in life.

I gave people a reason to think so because when I was 16 I dropped out of high school. I dropped out because traditional high school wasn't working for me and my family needed me. After I stopped going to school, I would stay home watching the kids and TV, and I would sleep all day. For a very long time I started to believe what people thought of me, because even though I wanted a better life I did nothing to change it. I just lacked the motivation and drive to make it happen.

Then, a few years later, my family told me I was 18 and old enough to go to Job Corps. I waited until I was 19 to apply because I was scared of failing, but then I sucked it up and applied. I got accepted on October 26, 2009. I knew for the first time in my life there was no going back to my old life.

When I got to Job Corps, I came with two goals: to get my high school diploma and learn a vocational trade. It was hard at times, but it felt so good to work and learn. At times I was really nervous because I had been out of school for so long and I had never worked before, so everything seemed to be so foreign.

My dreams and goals are completed: I am done with my vocation and am proud to say I am finally a high school graduate. During my time here, I have received my Forklift, OSHA 10, Scaffold, CPR, and First Aid certifications.

Coming to Job Corps is the best choice I have ever made to better my future. Thanks to SIATech and Job Corps, I have gained the skills I need to be successful in life and not just another statistic. Through many life lessons I can finally be a responsible, productive adult of the United States of America. But not only that, I have a very bright future.

Because of the best woman in my life, my "Mama," I am the woman I am today. If it wasn't for family and friends helping me get into Job Corps, I would still be sitting at home doing nothing. Because of Ms. Sylvia and Ms. Breece and our talks, laughs, happy and sad times, and for just putting up with me through it all, I didn't give in or give up. I have benefited from so many staff; they have helped me become a better and smarter person.

All the friends I have made along the way have kept me sane and down to Earth. I know people doubted me, but I have proven them all wrong. I owe so very much to our Heavenly Father because if it wasn't for Him, I would be nothing.

In life and at Job Corps I've had my share of ups and downs and am far from being perfect, but I just keep moving forward. I love this quote from Adam Osborne: "The most valuable thing you can make is a mistake - you can't learn anything from being perfect."

I do believe everything happens for a reason. You might not understand it at that moment, but one day you will. That is just one of the many things I have learned in my SIATech classes.

Rachel Orona graduated from SIATech Inland Empire in October, 2011. SIATech (pronounced SIGH-a-tek) is an award-winning network of charter schools focused on dropout recovery. SIATech is a WASC-accredited high school that operates in partnership with the federal Job Corps and Workforce Investment Act programs on eight campuses throughout California. The school serves 100% low-income and previously out-of-school youth. SIATech excels at identifying student strengths and individualizing instruction to meet each student's needs and goals. The school's safe and caring setting enables students to take charge of their learning and obtain the tools they need for lifetime success, whether it is at their chosen career or further education. For more information on SIATech, watch this short video or visit the SIATech website.

Sierra Jenkins

Good for you, Rachel! Thanks for sharing your story - I hope it will inspire many more students to go back to school and turn things around just like you did!

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