Actions

Success story: Pueblo family enters medical field together after job loss

The Vasquez Family
Posted at 5:06 PM, Jul 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-04 23:25:13-04

As of this summer, statistics show 1 in 10 Coloradans remain unemployed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's why our News 5 team has been working for several months to let you know which employers are hiring and how to get your resume noticed.

In April, Chief Investigative Reporter Eric Ross revealed a statewide shortage for Certified Nurse Aides, or CNA's.

A follow-up report later featured a special scholarship program at The Independence Center, which was funded by the Colorado Springs Health Foundation to help applicants become certified in as little as four weeks without a major financial burden.

Our report caught the attention of Fernando Vasquez, a loyal News 5 viewer in Pueblo.

Vasquez is a veteran and recently worked for the Department of Corrections. Earlier this year, things took a turn for the worse.

"I had gotten let go and separated from the DOC because of an angina in my heart," he explained. "They said I couldn't do this type of work."

Unemployed and with plenty of time at home, he frequently watched TV.

"I always click on the news," he said. "When the news comes on, 5 and 30 is where I have it. I saw the ad (news program) where they had a scholarship offer for a CNA class."

Vasquez says he's always been interested in public service and helping others. When he heard about a scholarship program to help offset enrollment costs for the CNA training class, he was interested.

He applied to get into the summer 4-week training class offered at The Independence Center and was awarded the scholarship money, but what makes his situation unique is that his two daughters also joined him.

"I always wanted to work in the medical field," Jazzmyne Vasquez said. "I just didn't know where exactly in the medical field."

Jazzmyne was a student at CSU Pueblo and also held a job on campus to earn some extra money.

"I got a job at CSU as a custodian but when COVID hit and the quarantine happened, I got let go," she said. "I was trying to figure out what it is that I wanted to do and this was a push and an open door that I was willing to take a step into."

Jazzmyne's younger sister, Amanda, just graduated high school and was also looking for work.

Unsure of her immediate career path, all three went back to the classroom together to learn how to become a CNA.

After completing the class last month, Jazzmyne and her sister both started applying for jobs.

They didn't have to wait too long for an offer.

"I got an offer the next day," Amanda said. "It was the very next day. I was really excited."

As luck would have it, both Amanda and her Jazzmyne got offered jobs almost immediately at University Park Care Center in Pueblo.

"It's my first job ever," Amanda said. "I've never had a job. Being a CNA was challenging at first but now I'm getting used to it."

Jazzmyne admits while the job isn't for everyone, it's satisfying for her.

"I definitely see myself with this job (career field) for a very long time because eventually I want to become a RN so this is kind of a stepping stone for me," she said.

As for their father who is now in his 40's, he says it's never too late to reconsider a career change.

"I've seen people get their degrees at 80 or 96 years old and there is no excuse to say there's no jobs out there," Fernando said. "There's plenty of jobs out there, especially with CNA's."

Fernando also applied at the same care facility as his daughters. After our interview with him, he was offered the position and starts work Thursday.

If you'd like to learn more about the CNA training program at The Independence Center and potential financial assistance available, click here.

Do you have a story idea you'd like to share with Eric? Contact our News 5 Investigates team any time! You can call our tip line at 719-228-6275 or send an email to News5Investigates@KOAA.com.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE:

CNA shortage impacts Colorado

CNA scholarships offered through The Independence Center