leaky pipe:

disconnection in the education system

youth stories

jose, 19, east county

I was born in the states, but the rest of my family was born in Ensenada. I lived with my family, and went to school there. Everything was fine and suddenly things were different—my dad got dementia in his fifties, and my mom needed to take care of him. I quit school to work in a factory, but the work was hard on me and I couldn’t do it for long, so I decided that I had to go back to school. My parents and I moved to the U.S. to get help for my dad, leaving my siblings behind in Ensenada.

I searched online and decided to apply for the Career Smart program at Able-Disabled because I liked that I would be able to get compensated for going to school, and I wanted to go to school and learn too so it was perfect. Aside from the program, I have Medi-Cal for support, and my dad gets disability money as well. Since my mom needs to take care of my dad full time, she gets paid by the state to care for him.

I really like the Career Smart program, and the Excel training, but I wish it were longer. It’s only ten weeks and there’s so much to cover in such a short time. I also go to Cesar Chavez High School, and from there take the bus to the Career Smart program. Since moving here, I haven’t had a chance to make many friends and have really relied on technology like apps and the internet to improve my English. Aside from the language barrier, transportation makes it difficult too since even with a bus pass it takes so much time to travel from place to place.

Although it’s been hard, my mom has been very supportive of me and I have supportive adults over at Cesar Chavez and at Able-Disabled. I’m not sure yet of what kind of jobs I’m interested in, but I’m working on overcoming the barriers in my life like learning English and continuing to get more education.