Janet Vargas’s journey is a testament to the power of determination, resilience, and the unwavering desire to create a better life. From her humble beginnings as a young immigrant to her role as the Center Manager at California Human Development (CHD), her story is a source of inspiration for anyone facing adversity.
A Challenging Start
Janet Vargas arrived in the United States at the tender age of five. As the eldest of three sisters, she was thrust into a world of responsibility early on. By the time she was twelve, Janet was already working in the fields, contributing to her family’s income. Education often took a backseat to the demands of labor, and she also assumed the role of caregiver for her younger siblings, managing household chores while her mother and stepfather toiled in the fields. Janet’s childhood was far from carefree, and she missed out on the joys of play that most children experience.
A Blessing in Disguise
At sixteen, Janet found herself pregnant, facing a daunting period in her life. However, the birth of her son marked a turning point. It was a blessing that gave her a newfound sense of purpose and determination. Janet dropped out of high school in the 10th grade but continued working in the fields, picking a variety of crops in San Joaquin County to support her growing family.
Despite the challenges she faced, Janet was determined to provide her son with the opportunities she had missed. She encouraged him to stay in school and, at the age of 21, she began exploring options to obtain her GED high school equivalency credential.
A Heroic Decision
Around the same time, Janet faced another difficult choice when her mother faced deportation to Mexico, and her younger sisters were on the brink of entering the foster care system. Despite her youth, being a young mother with another child on the way, Janet decided to fight for custody of her three sisters to keep them from entering foster care. With her stepfather incarcerated and her mother facing jail time, Janet became the sole caretaker of her sisters, aged 6, 8, and 13. Balancing motherhood, work, and caregiving, Janet’s responsibilities grew.
A Journey to CHD
Janet’s path to California Human Development (CHD) began with her pursuit of a GED. She learned about CHD’s HEP program, which offered GED preparation in Spanish or English at the Lodi WorkNet Center. Little did she know that this program would eventually lead her to a management position within the organization.
At age 23, Janet registered under the DACA program, granting her temporary protection and the ability to work in the U.S. legally. Despite the lack of support from her husband and the immense responsibilities she bore, Janet remained steadfast in her pursuit of education and self-improvement.
Rising Above the Odds
With the encouragement of a case manager in the Farmworker Services Division, Janet joined the Work Experience program in 2015. She surrounded herself with mentors and colleagues who supported her growth. By November 2015, she was hired as an administrative support person, and one year later, she became a case manager at the Galt office.
Despite being told that her lack of formal education could hinder her, Janet applied for the Center Manager position. After the initially selected candidate withdrew, she applied once more and succeeded in securing the role in 2019.
A Proud Success Story
Janet’s life has been a rollercoaster of challenges, but her experiences have instilled in her the values of hard work, perseverance, and resilience. She takes pride in the example she has set for her children and sisters, who have all become successful adults in their own right.
Janet attributes much of her success to her unwavering faith. She firmly believes that her path to CHD was guided by her mission to serve others, which began at the age of 12 when she first started working in the fields.
Janet Vargas is living proof of why organizations like CHD exist. She serves as a shining example and a role model for anyone aspiring to make a difference in the lives of others. Her remarkable journey from the fields to success is a testament to the indomitable human spirit and the power of determination.