SANTA MARIA, Calif. - A nonprofit organization is opening the doors of opportunity to farm workers in Santa Maria. From helping them with their GED, to offering mental health support, the organizations says its students have overcome challenges they never thought they would.
Laura Madrigal says she's been a farm worker on the Central Coast for the past 22 years. In all that time, she never saw a future beyond field work, but she did want more.
“I wanted to study," Madrigal shared in Spanish. "That's been my goal for years."
A few months ago, Madrigal heard about SER Jobs' free GED program and it changed everything she thought she knew about a high school education.
We can leave behind many of the notions we had in Mexico, that studying is only for people who are really smart, or for people who have money.”
“Usually they work on the fields because they can't find other opportunities, other jobs," said program instructor Sergio Calderon. "They think that's the only thing they have for the rest of their lives. Many come with the believe that it's too late for them to do it.”
“It's opportunity, not only for themselves but for their children,” said program director Veronica Dominguez.
"One tends to not have a lot of faith in oneself when you start the classes. You doubt your capabilities,” said Madrigal,
But that's not her case anymore. The Mexican immigrant is set to get her diploma in a few days.
"In Mexico we never had the opportunity to study or grow professionally so the U.S has given us many opportunities.”
Laura says her goal is to continue her education after getting the GED.
“Once they start accomplishing small goals, they're able to notice that they can do more,” said Calderon.
The program also hosts workshops about mental health, college prep, financial advising, legal resources, among other topics.
SER Jobs has locations in Santa Maria, Guadalupe, and Lompoc.