Rising Above: Luis’s Story

Luis Manuel Ramirez was born and raised in his native country of Mexico where he completed the majority of his education. His parents immigrated to this country when Luis was 15 years old. Luis was having difficulties with the transition especially when he enrolled in school. The language barrier became very challenging for Luis so he opted to drop out of high school, completing only an 11th-grade education.

Luis was no stranger to working and immediately found employment after leaving school. With language continuing to be a barrier for Luis, he found it difficult to obtain employment. He felt he could only work in agriculture. Succumbing to his own barrier Luis remained a farmworker for several years driving tractors and irrigating tomato fields. One day, Luis overheard a conversation between fellow co-workers mentioning “La Casa del Campesino”; this is the name given to California Human Development’s Woodland Office by the local farm workers. Out of curiosity he joined the conversation and learned that our office assisted farm workers with an array of services.

Highly curious, Luis came to our Woodland office and was eligible for our WIOA 167 and Dislocated Worker Programs. He was immediately interested in obtaining truck driving training.

Luis encountered several barriers when deciding to go for his Class A license. Firstly, being the sole provider of his family created a financial struggle. Luis was living paycheck to paycheck on his seasonal employment, and he was unsure if he could obtain and complete training with their financial struggle. Secondly, once again, Luis faced his language barrier. To obtain training Luis was required to successfully pass our CASAS test. Attempt after attempt, Luis failed to pass the test. His case manager, Nelida Sotelo, continued to motivate and encourage Luis to keep pushing toward his goal. Luis was referred to ESL classes to help improve his English skills. As a vendetta with himself, he made it his mission to not let his limited English continue to dominate his life. Every evening for seven months Luis attended ESL classes while also practicing with the Duolingo application on his phone, referred by his case manager.

After several months, Luis returned and successfully passed his CASAS test and was able to obtain training. The team was so proud of Luis and all his hard work to reach his goal. Luis completed truck driving training with a breeze, learning all pre-trip skills easily and driving behind the wheel like a natural. Luis officially obtained his Class A license and he had assistance from his case manager to enroll him online to obtain his Hazmat endorsement; he wanted to have a wider range of employment options.

Luis is employed by Clearlake Lava, Inc. He is very thankful to his case manager and our office for helping him overcome his barriers. He is extremely happy that he did not succumb to his language barrier a second time, as he is thriving at work and financially.

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