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Job-Training Program Allows Mother to Achieve Her Career Goal

November 10, 1994|MARY GUTHRIE

Aurora Bermudo took a job at a Terminal Island tuna-packing plant because she had to support her family. But while she fileted fish for canning, she dreamed of working in the medical field.

Finding the job at the plant had been hard enough, she said, because she didn't have a college degree and had little work experience, having married at 17. Then, in 1989, Bermudo got laid off from the packing plant, where she and her husband had worked for more than a decade.

She faced unemployment while she had two children in college. "The first thing is that you are depressed--you don't know what to do," she said. But when a group of job counselors from the Carson/Lomita/Torrance Private Industry Councilcame to the plant, Bermudo was first in line.

"When you need a job, you take what you can get," she said.

Recently, the Private Industry Council honored Bermudo, now 47, as one of the organization's successful alumni. In recognition of the success stories of the federal Job Training Partnership Act, Bermudo attended a luncheon with the governor in Sacramento last month.

Dolly Maldonado, one of the council's counselors, met Bermudo during the first frantic weeks after Bermudo was laid off.

"She was concerned about being able to provide an education for her sons," Maldonado recalls. Getting them the college education she never had was very important, Bermudo said.

"I don't want them to be like me," she said. "The one thing you cannot lose is your education."

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Bermudo, who had helped out at a pediatrician's office when she lived in the Philippines, enrolled in the Private Industry Council's 10-month medical assistant training program.

A star pupil, she had perfect attendance and a straight-A average. Classes were held four hours a day, five days a week, and students had three months of on-the-job training.

Within weeks of her graduation in 1990, Bermudo landed a job in the pediatrics department at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Harbor City. As a medical assistant, she works 32 to 40 hours a week, helping doctors and licensed nurses care for children.

"If (the council) weren't there, I don't know where I'd be right now," Bermudo said.

In a couple of months, the second of her two sons will graduate from college, fulfilling her dream for them. For herself, she's considering more retraining. She has her sights set on attending culinary school, but until she saves up enough for tuition, she's happy working at Kaiser.

One of the best things about her job is watching the children grow up, she said. "Even when they're not your kids you get excited to see them get bigger and bigger."

Items for this column may be sent to People Column, South Bay Edition, Los Angeles Times, 23133 Hawthorne Blvd., Torrance, 90505.

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