Goodwill Central Coast Success Story Denise Mar

Denise Mar worked hard to achieve her dream of becoming a Registered Nurse — balancing her classes, a part-time job, and everything else life threw at her.

Not long after registering for the nursing program at Cabrillo College in fall 2019, she nearly gave up. Unsure how she would fund her education (financial aid fell short), Denise saw no way around that barrier.

Then a classmate told her about the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which provides funding for eligible participants to obtain training and earn credentials in high-demand industries.

 Goodwill Central Coast administers the WIOA Adult & Dislocated Worker funding for Santa Cruz County, in partnership with the Workforce Development Board. The program is aligned with GCC’s own mission of helping to remove obstacles that stand in the way of those seeking employment and a better life.

Denise was referred to the American Job Center of California in Watsonville, where Goodwill staff supported her process through intake and eligibility. She was approved and assigned to Omar Garcia, a GCC Employment Specialist, who worked in collaboration with Cabrillo College to support Denise’s career goal of becoming an RN.

 Her journey began in 2016 when she earned a BA in Sociology from the University of California Santa Cruz. Upon completing college, Denise began working at Santa Cruz Community Health Center as a front desk receptionist for a couple of years and then at Dignity Health in the same role.

 Wanting to contribute more to the healthcare profession, Denise chose the natural next step — nursing school. She had all the credentials and qualifications but lacked the funding. Fortunately, WIOA establishes a priority requirement with respect to funds allocated to a local area for adult employment and training activities.

 Goodwill Central Coast staff helped point Denise in the right direction, effectively bypassing her obstacle to a better life.

  “I am grateful for the opportunity,” Denise said. “Not only for the material things but for all the support they gave me throughout this journey.”

 Although the pandemic was in full swing during her training, Denise understood the importance of her opportunity to help pave a brighter future.

  It took Denise a little more than a year and a half to complete her training and reach her goal of becoming an RN in May of 2021. Within a couple of months of receiving her official Registered Nurse license, Denise was offered a full-time position at a local nonprofit clinic. She has now been employed for 8 months and is able to receive full benefits.

What’s next for Denise? Well, she plans on going back to school in the next year or two to become a Nurse Practitioner.

 From almost dropping out of a nursing program to receiving her license and obtaining an incredible job opportunity, Denise represents a modern-day success story. No obstacle should be too great for someone qualified and motivated to change their path toward a brighter future.

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