Masoumeh (Auzar) Varzandeh moved to the United States about 30 years ago. The nursing degree she had earned in her homeland, Iran, was useless here as was all her experience as a surgery scrub nurse and a registered nurse.
Life was filled with many new challenges and it was years before Auzar found work as a retail clerk. Eventually, she learned that she could learn computer skills that would help her find better work with a better income and essential benefits. She enrolled in English as a Second Language courses at Shoreline Community College and found work as a customer service representative at the Bank of America. All was good for five years – then her position was eliminated. Auzar was lucky – she was hired as an administrative assistant at the bank. Three years later, she found herself unemployed again. It was time to go back to school.
Auzar returned to Shoreline CC recently and enrolled in ESL and accounting courses, where she learned about the new Bilingual Office Assistant (BOA) program. Completion of the coursework would provide her with a certificate in just two quarters – she enrolled immediately.
“I am so glad I took it, because we had two great teachers - Ruth Duffy and Anita McEntyre,” Auzar said. “They both are very intelligent, caring and going out of their way to make sure we learn everything. I learned a lot from them so my skill is a lot higher than before.”
Auzar beams when she talks about her two daughters, Vida and Parisa, and their academic pursuits. Vida served in Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps and is now going to nursing school at San Diego State University. Parisa, who graduated from Oregon State University with a 3.8 GPA, is earning her master’s degree at the University of Washington.
Now, she, too, has begun her journey into college academia and looks forward to its rewards. The determined Auzar has decided to find a job at which she can utilize her new skills and make a livable salary. She also plans to continue her studies in accounting and English via online and hybrid classes. Future plans include earning a Payroll Clerk Certificate and working as a bookkeeper/office administrator.
The BOA program offers a win-win situation for non-native students. Once students reach level five in ESL coursework, they are eligible for the program, and in a matter of months, they are ready to interview for jobs with confidence and are ready to fill much-needed entry-level office positions in a number of office environments.
The two-quarter program is one of the college’s Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) programs, which allows students to spend less time in school and have clear pathways from entry-level jobs to higher-skilled and better-paying careers in high-demand fields. They also are designed so that students may choose to stay in school or return to earn more advanced degrees.
Job opportunities are endless – with skills applicable to any industry or business genre. Graduates earn a Certificate of Completion for the 19-credit program. Students graduate with word processing, spreadsheet, organizational, communication and human relations skills as well as job-related English skills that prepare them for jobs as administrative assistants, receptionists and office coordinators.
To find out more about the I-BEST training opportunities at Shoreline Community College, please call the ABE/GED/ESL Department at 206-546-4602 and ask for Debby Hunter.