July 7, 2000

Deaf Student Finds Hope and a Future

By Barry Garron
San Diego Community College District

Two years ago Veronica Castro of Chula Vista had no job skills, a five-year old child to support and not much hope of finding work because of a congenital hearing loss that has limited her to communicating primarily by American Sign Language.

Veronica Castro, holding her “Outstanding Student Award,” is pictured with (from left) Cohu, Inc. Electronics Division Production Manager Tony DeSousa, San Diego Community College District Workability III counselors David Pontious, Greg Cusick and Leslie Upton, and SDCCD Disabled Student Programs and Services manager Mary Lewis.

Today her life has been turned around, thanks to her hard work and determination, the California Department of Rehabilitation, San Diego Community College District and Cohu, Inc. Electronics Division. Times have change so much for Veronica that she recently received an Outstanding Student Award from the Department of Rehabilitation for completing the Electronics Assembler Certificate program at the Educational Cultural Complex and landing a job with Cohu, Inc. Electronics Division.

Cohu, which has actively recruited students with disabilities from the San Diego Community College District's Electronic Assembly Program, "is a company that looks at an individual's abilities rather than their disability," said Mary Lewis, SDCCD Disabled Student Programs and Services manager. The Dept. of Rehabilitation recently presented Cohu, Inc. with an Employer Recognition Award at its "Employment and Independence for People with Disabilities Awards Luncheon."

In 1998, Veronica turned to the Department of Rehabilitation for vocational training and job placement assistance. Through vocational counseling and assessments, Veronica decided she wanted to train to become an electronics assembler. Veronica chose this vocation because it allows her to work with her hands and does not require a lot of reading or writing. Electronics assembly requires good eye-hand coordination, and that is one of Veronica's strengths.

Once Veronica decided on a career direction, she was referred by the Dept. of Rehabilitation to the SDCCD's Workability III Program. Her Workability III counselor, David Pontious, assisted her to prepare for work while she was completing her training . He instructed her on how to complete job applications, develop a resume and job search skills. Counselor Pontious monitored her while in training at ECC.

Although Veronica had to juggle her training schedule while providing childcare for her son, she completed the training in professor Recardo Napoles' electronics assembly class last year and immediately began looking for a job.

Her first interview at Cohu went well, but a second interview was scheduled because the supervisor had questions about her ability to communicate when needed on the job. Workability counselor Pontious went with Veronica to the interview and provided information about communicating with employees who are deaf.

As a result, Veronica was hired the very next day. She is very excited about working at Cohu, and her employer says she is a valuable asset to the company.

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