Oxnard Adult School
Nominated in 2019
This is a long-awaited opportunity for us at Oxnard Adult School (OAS) to tell you why Jesus Lopez-Varela is an outstanding student, employee, and community leader. He is a success story through his perseverance and dedication to education.
Although he came from Mexico with a high school diploma and had attended university for three years studying veterinary science, he was at a disadvantage when he arrived in California because his English language skills were lacking. He came to California with a desire to improve his life for his wife and family. He worked two jobs, one at a dry cleaner and the other in a radio station. He realized that he had to take ESL classes before he could begin working on a career. After completing his ESL classes, he applied for a job at Oxnard Adult School as a tutor for the Migrant Program. He needed to get his GED and once he did that, he decided to get his high school diploma through an Options Program which combined the GED with a specified set of courses. He worked as a Migrant tutor helping many students work toward their high school diploma. He was an inspiration to those students and encouraged them to continue their education at our local community college. All this time, he still continued his other part-time jobs in order to support his growing family.
The administration at Oxnard Adult School saw the potential in Jesus and offered the guidance technician position to him as a full-time job. He applied and was given the opportunity for advancement. In this job, he was able to help more students pursue their educational goals. Many would come to ask for his advice and math tutoring in both Spanish and English. After a few years, Jesus decided to further his education and began taking classes at Oxnard College. He was an outstanding student, so when he asked the administration for some flex time in order to attend the local university to finish his degree, they totally supported him. Jesus graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from CSU Channel Islands and knew that he wanted to become a teacher, so he found a part-time program to earn his teaching credential.
While working on his credential, he saw the need to begin a Spanish language GED/HSE prep class at OAS. He researched all the available materials and put together a proposal to initiate the class. He approached the administration with his plan and was given the approval once he earned his teaching credential. He has been teaching this class since its inception and has had great success in seeing his students earn their GED or HiSET certificate. He is an inspiration to his students and the rest of the staff with his dedication and professional attitude. In fact, he was awarded the Classified Person of the Year from Oxnard Union High School District in 2015.
He is a published author having written two books based on his life experiences. He is also an accomplished musician, playing his various instruments and singing at school functions. He is involved with the community of Oxnard by participating in the Oxnard College Black Box Theater. He has volunteered many hours promoting Oxnard Adult School classes at local fairs, neighborhood meetings, and swap meets. He has three children; his two older daughters are both university graduates, one working in Washington DC, and the other pursuing her online business from Amsterdam, Netherlands, and his son is finishing his degree at his father’s alma mater, CSUCI.
Jesus is a great example of a student reaching his goals, starting out as an ESL student and achieving academic success one step at a time. He managed to continue his studies, overcoming the many challenges that adult students must face while working, learning English, and raising a family. He is proof that adult students can reach their goals with support, guidance, and perseverance.