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VALLEY FOCUS | Panorama City

5 Women Complete Office Skills Course

July 11, 1998|TOM SCHULTZ

Perla Rivas smiled wide Friday morning. The 20-year-old's long black hair graced her shoulders as she stood behind a podium, raised her hands and stirred the air with sign language.

"We've had a good time," Rivas signed to family and friends as an interpreter gave voice to her words. "That's why I've loved this program."

Rivas of San Fernando and four other Valley residents graduated Friday from a Goodwill Industries office skills training program designed to prepare deaf or hearing-impaired candidates for the work force.

"I've learned so much," Rivas signed. "They've given me some good advice and helped me find a job, helped me have a good attitude."

Administrators of the Office Applications Training program gave Rivas and Veronica Castaneda of Granada Hills, Rafif Jaber of Canoga Park, Dina Vivian of Van Nuys and Sheryl Christian of Tarzana, white roses, warm hugs and parchment certificates marking months of study.

The five women comprise the first class to graduate from the free program, funded by the state Department of Rehabilitation, since 1996 when financial problems caused its temporary shutdown, said Margaret O'Brien, vice president of educational training for Goodwill Industries.

The program is divided into a five-month basic class, in which students learn typing, filing, data entry, business math and computer software applications, and a two-month advanced class, in which advanced business math, data entry, software uses and Web site development are taught.

Classes, open to students age 16 or older, meet Monday through Friday. Administrators help graduates find work, often accompanying students on job interviews to act as interpreters.

For more information, call (818) 782-2673 (TTY) or (818) 782-8243.

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