What is the difference between going somewhere for relief; going somewhere for direction, and where do we just go to waste time? These questions dig at what we need, what we want and what we believe in. These are sophisticated questions that we do not normally ask ourselves. Instead we leave these kinds of questions in the back of our minds, to only find an answer when we least expect it. Unfortunately, many of us might not get to the right answers if we don’t begin to ask now.
Being a direct individual, Vicente Uvera would dare you to ask yourself such blunt questions. This is because Vicente had been running the gauntlet of poverty and he was desperately trying to find the way out by utilizing supportive services. Ever since his younger days, he remembers welfare, food stamps, toy-drives, hand-me-downs, and thrift shops.
So when Vicente graduated high school he was ready to work his way out of poverty. He eagerly went out seeking public assistance to find a vocation, but quickly grew dissatisfied with some of the end results of the programs he completed. He felt that many programs only taught fundamental skills that lacked depth; and he felt the programs were more focused on finding participants then they were focused on finding good jobs for the participants. He realized that although “…There are many types of programs out there; if you don’t ask yourself what you’re doing there and getting out of it, then you could find yourself wasting a lot of time.”
Eventually, Vicente found his way to a program called GROW (General Relief for Opportunities Work) where he was recognized and referred to Linda Choy of the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE). She took Vicente to an orientation at East Los Angeles College (ELAC) so that he could find out more about the Technology & Logistics Program offered in the Computer Applications and Office Technologies Department.
He quickly found out that he liked the logistics courses. He seemed to fly through the course work and soon was taking the final Leadership in Global Logistics course. That is where he met Leo Medina, the instructor of the Leadership class. Leo noticed Vicente’s presentation skills and suggested that Vicente work with an Academic Coach in the program named Elvia Viramontes. Elvia worked with Vicente to polish up his interview skills and new found leadership skills. It was soon after that he found himself landing an interview and eventually a job with the United Parcel Service (UPS).
Vicente continues to take classes at ELAC and to work for the UPS and mentions that he is enjoying spending time and helping his sisters and nephews with what he can. “I wouldn’t know what I would do without them there. They’re such a big part of my life. I see my nephews and nieces and I want to help them have things I was not able to have. It was hard growing up poor, but I am glad because it has helped shape the person I am today. I am glad I found somewhere I could really be productive and learn. The Logistics Program really has changed me as it has given me a direction in life. In almost one year I went from doing nothing, just being home feeling sorry for myself, to actually doing something with my life. Whatever happens next is totally in my hands, and I like it.”