July 11, 2008

From Homeless to Introducing President Bush — Saga of a San Diego Continuing Ed. Student

San Diego Continuing Education student Edith Espinoza is quite an inspiration.

Not long ago, the mother of two young girls was homeless and a victim of domestic abuse.

On June 26, she found herself sharing a stage with President Bush in Washington, D.C. She was selected to introduce the President at a national conference for the federal Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

President George W. Bush gives a kiss on the cheek to Edith Espinoza after introducing him at the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives National Conference in Washington. Photo by Chris Greenberg

After Edith introduced President Bush, he stated, “How beautiful was that? From being a homeless mother of two to introducing the President of the United States. There has to be a higher power. I love being with members of the armies of compassion, foot soldiers in helping make America a more hopeful place.”

Currently, Edith is enrolled in a computer keyboarding and ESL classes at the Mid-City campus of Continuing Education. For the past 14 months, she has been taking ESL classes, working her way up to Level Six. (Level Seven is the highest offered.) She has also taken a Survey of Business course.

Most of her time at Mid-City, Edith was living at El Nido, a shelter for domestic violence victims. Earlier this year, she and her two daughters were placed in a furnished apartment.

Edith is grateful for the opportunity to improve her English and for the array of support services that she has received since first enrolling at Continuing Education’s Mid-City campus. She gave special recognition to Mid-City staffers Cindy Thompson and Elena Adams, who have provided her with resources such as transportation, funds for books, and a job. They have also spent considerable time counseling Edith.

Thompson, a CalWORKs job developer for Continuing Education students, reported that she was able to help Edith land a job as an administrative assistant for the Chicano Federation of San Diego County in November 2007. Edith was just recently given a six-month extension — and a raise, Thompson happily reported.

“She is an amazing person with an amazing spirit,” Thompson said. “She is determined to fulfill her poten-tial....She works so hard and wants to be a role model for her children so that they don’t have to go through what she has gone through.”

In December 2006, Edith arrived at the El Nido shelter with nothing but her two daughters and the clothes on their backs, according to El Nido spokesperson Francisca Jinesta. Shortly after taking refuge at the shelter, Edith enrolled at Continuing Education’s Mid City Campus. Her career goal is to become a Child Development professional.

It was Jinesta who nominated Edith to introduce President Bush.

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