Madariaga's focus is jobs, jobs, jobs

A fresh visitor to the Downey Adult School at Woodruff and Imperial will be hard-pressed at first to locate H-61, the offices of the school's Career One Stop Center, but once it's located, it may well be one of the most friendly and accommodating places in the entire campus.There, where OLPH, St. Joseph's High, and Loyola Marymount grad Karina Madariaga presides, students with their unique training and more often than not financial aid needs come and seek counsel from the 'Job Developer' lady. She reports to assistant principal Blanca Rochin. The job description of Karina's title embraces assisting students with resume writing, preparation of cover letters, and filling out job applications, as well as mock interviews ("A common problem is simple nervousness," she says); giving classroom presentations; maintenance of an online job board; and handling case management work for special program students, such as those referred by EDD, WIA, etc. ("These are handled on a case by case basis"). Her job also includes career counseling, advising students on what career choices may be appropriate, based on their past experience, current needs, and future expectations. A third dimension of Karina's job, and the one that takes the most amount of time ("This is huge," she says), is helping students with financial aid issues, helping them with PELL grant applications, for instance. She now also keeps the lines of communication open with the Downey Federal Credit Union, with which DAS has just started partnering to serve students, on how they can best be served by DFCU. Thus students taking classes at DAS have these three possible funding sources: federal funding (PELL grants), state funding (through EDD), or self-funding (now with an assist from DFCU). As far as career counseling is concerned, Karina says not a day goes by without her advising someone that today computer skills are the typing skills of yesteryear, and therefore if one is contemplating advancement in practically any employment area, one will be wise to gain facility in it. Right now, she says, in addition to the extremely popular offerings in the medical/dental area, many students are enrolled in general office/office skills courses, as these lead into such useful and gainful employments in customer service, data entry, business communications and accounting. These seem equally recession-proof, she contends. Meanwhile a common refrain is heard from her students, such as this one from a happy 'customer': "I have to thank EDD for referring me to this place. Cost-wise, the programs are least expensive here, and the place is not conducive to stress. What's more, what you acquire here can readily be passed on to your family." She's of course very aware of the administrative realignments now taking place at the district, sending heretofore DAS principal Roger Brossmer to his new assignment at district headquarters come July 1. "I'm excited that Phil Davis is coming," Karina said. "This will mean an excellent match for the school because of his ROP [stewardship]." Born to a Basque father and a half-Italian, half-Argentinian mother, Karina has had her share of traveling (to 15 European countries). She says she loves to read (mostly historical novels), loves languages (a French major, she spent the summer at the Sorbonne following her graduation from LMU), and is unmarried (she says she's happy in her current relationship). A sister, Bernice, works also at DAS in the front office, while another sister also lives here in Downey. Four times a week, she teaches a dance-based aerobics class called "Zumba" in Anaheim (she also conducts classes on the web). A lifetime resident of Downey, and a past member of the Soroptimist International of Downey (scheduling conflict), she is the current president-elect of the Downey Los Amigos Kiwanis, the club's first woman president. She says that as far as her resources will allow, she intends to "care for the community that nurtured me."

********** Published: March 12, 2010 - Volume 8 - Issue 47