Maria (Majo) Jose Perez

South Bay Adult School

Nominated in 2023


Maria Jose "Majo’s" chosen word is "Determined", and everything about her breathes determination!

Majo is from Ecuador and comes from a family of 6. She is the youngest of four and the only girl. She met her husband in Ecuador and reconnected later in life through social media. He is what brought her here to California. Her 25-year-old son is still in Ecuador and leaving her family was the hardest thing she has ever done. She must remind herself that what she is doing is inspiring and motivating her son to pursue his career goals. She wants to show her son “everything you set out to do can be achieved!”

In Ecuador, she attended ITSMAD (Higher Technological Institute of Marketing) from 2008-2012, receiving an associate degree in business marketing. As a parent and student, it was challenging to find time to study and at times, she had to stop studying to meet her son’s needs. Lack of transportation was also a challenge she had to overcome, but she did it! She worked in a wide variety of industries including Marketing, Sales and Customer Support for Pharmaceutical industries, newspapers, breweries and in the health field. Coming to the United States, she immediately began getting her education at South Bay Adult School, beginning with ESL courses. Concurrently she found work in customer service and in the restaurant industry.

She had been a professional in Ecuador, but now coming here, she had to find work in a new country, with a new language! Her husband became very ill with kidney troubles, and she was the sole breadwinner! When she learned of a restaurant in need of a dishwasher, the upcoming interview terrified her, but she knew she had to go! Luckily, she had a chef at the restaurant who helped her in her interview. He predicted she would last one week, washing dishes here with her impressive professional marketing background in Ecuador! To his surprise, she stayed strong for 6 months, then moving up to manage at Subway!

As she worked, Majo navigated through numerous educational opportunities at the South Bay Adult School, enrolling in multiple programs and classes including:

ESL accent reduction and pronunciation, ESL Conversation, ESL Reading, ESL Low Intermediate, ESL High Intermediate, ESL Bridge (Highest ESL level), GED Preparation courses, ABE Reading Language Arts, -Career Pathways (in partnership with El Camino College), Medical Terminology Class, El Camino Jr. College Fire Technology Classes (FTEC 120 and FTEC 144), and currently, High School Diploma.

The CASAS test determines her skill level and aptitude. The CASAS tested her abilities in reading as she'll apply them in the classroom or workforce. Her CASAS Scores showed a 21-point gain in Reading! That size growth shows her impressive effort at growing her reading skills!

She continuously immersed herself in learning environments through employment to supplement her classes working full time at multiple locations including MB Posh Restaurant (Dishwashing), PV Income Tax (Administrative Assistant), Subway (Management), Wingstop (Management), Jamba Juice (Management) and Polar Beverages (Field Marketing Representative). In order to be able to move up in her career she now understands that she needs her high school diploma to move upward, and nothing is going to stop her.

Majo is now contributing to the community and learning of others by mentoring fellow students, supporting school events and working closely with the "Lo Máximo LA Hispanic Magazine", helping directly with the success of their events. She recently received Los Angeles City, Los Angeles County and US Congress recognition for women who are improving their community. At their community event for disadvantaged Los Angeles families, she was integral in helping at the events with toy/ food giveaways.

Majo looks forward to continuing her education with plans to continue studying to earn her master's degree. She plans to find a career in Marketing and Public Service using her skills and that allows her to continue to grow and expand her skills. I have complete confidence that with her natural tenacity, consistent follow through and most of all, DETERMINATION, she will meet and exceed her goals in her dream career, inspiring others along the way.

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