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What's Your Story?

Stories From Chula Vista


“I am a mother of four girls who has done nothing but struggle in life making minimum wage and barely getting by with dead-end jobs that were meaningless and went nowhere. Until, this last November, I got a job as a caregiver for seniors and disabled people. I never knew until now how rewarding and fulfilling a job like this was. It wasn’t great pay, but it wasn’t just about the money. It was also the satisfying and truly rewarding feeling of helping people with the simplest things that we sometimes take for granted, like making food and cleaning their house. Many of these people are alone or feel forgotten and to be able to make them feel important or that someone cares has truly impacted my life in a way that has made me hungry for more meaning. And that’s when my journey started. I made the decision to go back to school, which was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. Being a mother of four girls and going to work are all obstacles that make going to school that much harder. These past couple of months have been harder than anything I’ve ever done in my life. I have the best teacher that I’ve EVER had who makes me excited to be in school every day. I get to do things not just anyone can do. I can give injections. I’ve been learning how to draw blood. I learned CPR. I learned how to attempt to save a life giving basic life support. When I feel stuck or when things start becoming too much and it’s hard to keep moving, I play the graduation song and I close my eyes and envision myself at my graduation with all of my family there cheering me on.”

- Erika Z.

Medical Assistant



“I am extremely thankful for my struggle these past 12 months. Last year, I was in a car accident and left with a traumatic brain injury. I lost my husband, my company, my home, and myself due to my mental illness. I became a manic depressive alcoholic, who fought with suicidal thoughts daily. I remember my three children and I lying in bed at the El Cajon Motel 6. A UEI commercial came on and suddenly excitement filled my heart! I told myself that day that I would no longer live my life as a victim and I would go back to school to prove to myself and my children that quitting in life is never an option. Although, since being a student, I've gone through a miscarriage, other severe health issues, and a short phase of being homeless again. I've become a more positive role model for my children, as well as, learned to not lean on alcohol to make it through the day. My struggle has lead me to completing my ECPP classes and receiving my GED, completing all required courses online for my Real Estate License, and pushing me to accomplish my goal in obtaining my diploma in BOA which I once gave up on years ago. It has also introduced me to some very passionate people and a support system, including my fellow students and Mr. Pena, I thought I'd never have again. Everything that could possibly lead to giving up has happened to me, but it is only through your struggle strength and growth comes. I will forever be thankful for the struggle that is responsible for the woman I have become and the UEI Chula Vista campus for teaching me a family doesn't have to be related. I absolutely love and am grateful for my UEI family. I would love the opportunity of organizing a Suicide Prevention and Awareness event and being the motivational speaker. Depression is real, there are so many people are fighting a silent battle and no one is aware of it until it's too late. If I could inspire just one person to not give up, to go after their dreams, to not be ashamed of anything they have done, and show them they are not alone and I am here for them, I will have accomplished the purpose of creating my event. I want others in my community to hear my life story and say "It's because of my story, they didn't give up.”

- Trina G.

Business Office Administration 



“Do not give up! I have to balance work, school, and my personal life with my one year old and it is not easy. As a single mom, it has been such an overwhelming experience, but overall so worth it. Remember to always finish what you start because you never know what the future holds for you. It’s definitely shaped me into a better person. I have to balance my day-to-day life tasks to fit into one day and still be at work, school, and be a mom with a smile on my face. It taught me to become more responsible, patient, and to interact with different personalities every night I come to school. The thought of quitting has crossed my mind at times, but as my months become less and less in class, I'm more than thankful for those surrounding me, inspiring me to continue to end strong. I can’t thank my teacher enough for all those real life experience stories that she’s shared with me and my class to realize that I'm at the perfect working environment to help others. I love to help and spread positivity towards my surroundings and I've learned how going above and beyond for people will only make a difference in this world.”

- Kimberly C.

Medical Office Specialist


“I came to UEI a very broken man. I had just lost my business, had just recovered from being very ill and was homeless living in a shelter. I am almost 40 years old and a man who believed, I wouldn’t be able to fix all I had lost. UEI was my biggest blessing. I started in September 2017, with no job, money, and wasn’t sure if I could even afford to go to school much less attend class faithfully. I was given scholarships, grants, and loans to begin this journey but I needed a job part time. I applied and was hired as a federal work study. This covered loan tuition, transportation, and food. It brings tears to my eyes just saying this but I was encouraged to be a mentor on campus because amazingly I was not only meeting but exceeding the expectation of the average student. I was successful in attendance and honors not to mention I did my very best to be the best employee because I was so grateful and full of life again. I had no idea I was going be so blessed by so many on this campus. I had the pleasure to work and study. For 8 months, I lived half my daily life with the most incredible students and faculty. While working predominantly in the career center. I was able to see firsthand the work and effort made by the team. I also felt very much a part of that team. Great people. Before my externship, I happened to be coming to work after class and an employer was interviewing with one of the career service leaders. He was interested in externships and inquiring about being an affiliate to the program. He asked about me so I was introduced and offered an interview. I was hired the following week and am now already working for them while my externship requirements are being met. I’m making enough money to move on my own again. I will be moving into my own place July 3, 2018. I must say I had no idea that I would be this successful in such a short time. It’s only the beginning but UEI has given me a chance to change my life. I just needed a chance! That’s my story so far and I wouldn’t change it, not even a little because of the amount of hope I have now was formed out of hopelessness. I feel incredible.”

- John F.

Medical Assistant


“I used to spend my summers and weekends babysitting my Nana. As the years went by, her health worsened and I remember waking up in the middle of the night because something just didn’t seem right. I pushed her life alert button, when the ambulance arrived she was already in cardiac arrest. My grandma went back for surgery and was then released a few weeks later. I remember her first follow-up appointment. I was pushing her into the back and the MA knew my Nana the second she saw her. My grandma was trying to hit and kick that poor woman the whole time. But Jen, the MA, was so kind and patient with us. She showed so much compassion towards my grandma and I just adored her. A few months before her 99th birthday, her health started to worsen. She was always sick, which meant we were seeing a lot of Mrs. Jen. I wanted to be just like her, so sweet, caring, and kind. I just wanted to be that person who had some control in helping others who really were in a time of need. Jen even attended my grandma’s 99th birthday. That evening, when everyone was leaving, my grandma had a heart attack again. Jen performed CPR while the ambulance was on its way, her hands kept my grandma alive until she made it to the hospital. She changed my whole life. I knew when I grew up I wanted to be just like Jen. Since starting at UEI, I have learned to perform an EKG, draw blood, run tests with urine, and hearing and vision exams. I learned CPR so I can save someone like Jen saved my grandma!”

- Julie T.

Medical Assistant


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