LAUSD/DACE - El Camino Real Community Adult School
Jose Rivas has always known the value of hard work. Growing up in Guatemala, he began working at an early age, before he was 10, as a handyman so he could help his impoverished family support themselves. Taught by his mother the value of education, Jose walked five miles to a one-room schoolhouse every day. One day, his father perched Jose on his knee and said to him, "Son, if you work hard and listen to your mama, someday you can live a life of luxury in America." But this life of luxury seemed like a distant dream, a far off glimmer of hope, far removed from what he was experiencing.
After getting his high school diploma, Jose’s parents divorced, and his mother was driven even deeper into poverty. Taking a job in a hot, dirty textile mill, she became so appalled at the treatment of the workers and the conditions they were forced to work under that she decided to leave Guatemala and come to the United States.
Jose’s dream was to someday, like his uncle in Guatemala, own his own business; be his own boss. Learning English was a necessary step in reaching his goal, his piece of the American Dream. Two years after arriving in the U.S., he enrolled in El Camino Adult School in 1984. He excelled as an ESL student for two years, and contributes much of his success to a “friendly environment” and “very qualified teachers”.
The oldest of four children, Jose sacrificed and worked hard to support his mother and siblings. After learning English, he worked nights as an electrical assembler and studied Graphic Design during the day, while getting only about 4 hours of sleep each night.
In 1994 Jose married the woman of his dreams and is still happily married with three children. He opened his own sign and banner shop in 1999, and employs his niece, nephew and a friend. Well known and well regarded in the community, Jose has a very successful business that is flourishing. Jose had to sacrifice a lot to get where he is now, but he says he has no regrets and his life has been, and continues to be very fulfilling. He coaches a kids' baseball team in Lanark Park each week, and helps out his community by donating his services to those who are trying to start their own business but cannot afford advertising expenses. He mentors youngsters in his neighborhood, and trained two of his friends in the sign and banner business. They now have their own successful businesses in Simi Valley and Moorepark. Jose's honesty, integrity and good nature have brought him lots of business including the adult school’s. His professionalism is what has made him a successful businessman and his compassion has made him a role model for the youth in his community.