LAUSD/DACE - Westchester-Emerson Community Adult School
Each day found Brandi Schnieder faced with a difficult challenge; making ends meet on public assistance. Not having nearly enough to support herself and her son, this single mother was able to find a part-time job through the Los Angeles Unified School District at Westchester-Emerson Community Adult School (WECAS). At 15 hours a week, the salary still did not cover even basic expenses. To add to her problems, Brandi had to take a college course to keep her job, which only added to her expenses. At the time, Brandi had no idea that her relationship with WECAS would eventually lead to full-time employment in a field that she enjoys, and would put her on the road to a successful future.
Working during the day, Brandi took an evening class at a community college, leaving little time to spend with her son who suffered from severe ear infections, severe enough to require three surgeries in four and a half years. Each surgery took about 18 months to complete. The parttime job didn't provide health insurance. The strain on her finances, which were already stretched to the breaking point, was tremendous.
Hoping to keep from falling into poverty Brandi was one of the firststudents to enroll when WECAS started its Pharmacy Technician class in 2003. She decided on this particular program because she found through her employment as a child-care aide with WECAS that she was "good with people." She also wanted to work in the medical field, but didn't want the exposure to "needles and blood" that comes with being a doctor or nurse. Brandi says that the fee WECAS charged was thousands of dollars less than other programs. She successfully completed Emerson's program and a 2 month internship at a pharmacy in Hawthorne. She was one of the program's first graduates, and immediately went to work at the store where she completed her internship. Brandi had reached a turning point; she had a full-time job with benefits.
Brandi continued to work at the store in Hawthorne until 2005 when she was offered a promotion to lead technician at another store where she is currently employed. She now has more quality time to spend with her son who is 10-years-old and in the fifth grade. He is excelling in school which Brandi contributes to her own ability to spend more time with him after school and on weekends. His ears don't give him quite so many problems these days either. Brandi says that having a good job with medical benefits is a major factor in her son's medical recovery and his school success.
A key factor in her success, says Brandi, is the patient and caring style of her teacher, Cassandra Ellis-Woodson. Cassandra gives of her own time to help students. She provides individual attention to students who need a little bit extra. For Brandi, this means continued help as she pursues her next goal of becoming a Certified Pharmacy Technician. Cassandra, on her own time, continues to help and teach Brandi, providing her with advice and assistance to prepare her for the state exams she will have to pass.
No one can say where Brandi Schnieder would be today is she had not started working a part-time job at WECAS. She may never have known about the Pharmacy Technician program which has brought her success and a better life.