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Westwood College Newsletter, February 2011

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The Buzz Student Newsletter

Special Edition - Graduates and Careers Issue

Message from Dean Gouin,
Westwood College Chief Operating Officer

"A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work." – Colin Powell

The quote by Colin Powell on the front cover epitomizes the kinds of students who attend and graduate from Westwood College. The determination they exhibit, backed by hard work, leads to so many success stories for us to applaud.

As I was searching for another way to describe our students and graduates, I googled the words, "stories on determination and persistence," and the top two items recount the story of the 13 years it took to build the Brooklyn Bridge. It involves a father and son who were discouraged and ridiculed by the so-called "experts" who told them to not even attempt the endeavor.

Despite all the odds—and there were many—the bridge was completed and stands today as a tribute to a dream realized. The whole story is too long to relate here, but the message is that what appears to be an impossible goal can be accomplished with determination and persistence. I encourage you to read the entire account.

The determination Westwood students exhibit, backed by hard work, leads to so many success stories for us to applaud.

This special edition of The Buzz contains the names of nearly 1,000 Westwood graduates from the 2010 March, May and August terms who are employed in their fields of study or a related field. The issue also highlights the stories of three Westwood graduates who are featured in the recently released Westwood 100—Volume 1, a book that showcases 100 of our outstanding graduates.

As you read the stories in this special issue of The Buzz and view the graduates' names, keep in mind that one day you could be among those listed here!

Graduate Profiles

Jose Canas, Custody Assistant—Los Angeles Sheriff's Department
2007 Graduate in Criminal Justice
Los Angeles Campus

Working on a bachelor's degree in criminal justice was a full-time endeavor for Jose Canas. And like so many Westwood students, Canas also juggled his studies with a full-time job. With careful planning, prioritizing and some sacrificing, he managed to do both.

"There are obstacles for students, especially those who work and go to school," says Canas. "Sometimes you have to take time off work to go to a school activity. At this point, you have to set your priorities straight and make decisions which will lead to a better future."

Canas managed to stay on top of the situation by keeping up with his homework. He adamantly advises other Westwood students not to let the homework pile up. "One of the best things to do while in school is to get to know other students, form study groups and study together. This will help you keep up with your grades," he counsels.

Experienced faculty and a flexible academic schedule also figured into the successful completion of his degree. "The best thing about the teachers is that they are professionals for the class they teach and have worked doing it, so they can provide students with real-life examples," Canas says.

Today, Canas works in the county jail as a custody assistant and has a goal of becoming a deputy sheriff. "I love the feeling of being on the right side of the law and having many of my friends look up to me."

Amber Sims
Accounts Receivable Administrator—Republic National Distribution Company
2010 graduate in Business Administration: Major in Accounting and Financial Management-Online Campus

Prior to enrolling at Westwood College, Amber Sims confesses that she was just working, hanging out with family and friends and "wasting time thinking that something was just going to fall into my lap."

"I endured quite a few hardships prior to joining the Westwood family which, in the long run, is what opened my eyes to the fact that I had to go back to school and further my education," Sims explains. "If I was ever going to have better opportunities, this was the only way I was going to get them."

And although the cost of school was a scary proposition, Sims turned that apprehension into the conviction that the cost of her education was actually an investment in her future – an investment that would only appreciate with time and experience. "I have made myself better, therefore bettering my family and the opportunities that have and will come my way," Sims comments.

In rating her online educational experience, Sims says that it worked for her because she was able to continue working full time as well as attending school full time. "The majority of the instructors were flexible and forthcoming with ideas and information. Also, the other students were very involved, which made for interesting and fulfilling courses."

Her persistence has paid off. Employed by the same company for more than seven years, Sims has received two promotions since earning her degree. Her future career goals include moving up the ladder at her current workplace, but if that doesn't work out, "I have complete and full confidence that I will find something even better!"

Amanda Veloz, Plumbing Designer—Multatech
2009 graduate in Computer Aided Design/Architectural Drafting
Fort Worth Campus

Amanda Veloz, Plumbing Designer—Multatech
2009 graduate in Computer Aided Design/Architectural Drafting
Fort Worth Campus

Amanda Veloz's first choice for a college to attend was Westwood. "Everything they offered me was exactly what I was looking for. The classes were great, and I immediately knew that this was where I needed to be," she relates.

Veloz particularly values the knowledge and expertise of the CAD instructors, saying that she learned from the best. "Any time we needed extra help or required more time after class, they were more than willing to spend that extra time to help out with a project. You learned something new every day and constantly strengthened your skills every time you walked into class," she says.

During the time it took to earn her degree, life wasn't always easy for Veloz. She lost her job and the bills started stacking up. But instead of quitting, Veloz remained positive and knew that everything would turn out in her favor. She did, indeed, land another job. Veloz says this persistence in the face of adversity was also demonstrated by many other Westwood students. Some of her friends went through divorces along the way, and she was "inspired by the ones who continued to attend school during the process. It showed that even though things happen in life that hurt, you must continue to wake up every day and take care of business."

Networking is high on Veloz's list of advice to students. "I had the honor to meet many respectful, motivated individuals in my field that have turned into great friendships," Veloz says. "We keep in touch with one another to lend a hand in any way we possibly can."

As a graduate, Veloz received "two of the best job offers imaginable" as a plumbing designer at two different companies. "I'm still amazed at what networking can do for you if you really put yourself out there and show professionals what you have to offer."


Westwood Students Exhibit True Grit on Their Journeys to Career Success

According to David Borofsky, Westwood provost and chief academic officer, "Every Westwood student has a unique story to tell, whether it's overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds or proving to a parent—and himself—that he can make his dreams come true." Over the years, staff and faculty at Westwood's 17 campuses have become familiar with such stories as:

  • students who have to walk through ganginfested neighborhoods just to get to campus
  • students who are the first to graduate from high school and now have the confidence to work towards a degree, despite what they’ve been told by their families and friends
  • students labeled as failures in the public school system but who are now on the Westwood dean’s list for multiple terms
  • students who consider Westwood staff and faculty as family and who are now "paying it forward" by mentoring and supporting new students

"After hearing the stories about what so many students must deal with and of their grit, determination and commitment to achieving their goal of an education, I consider them to be heroes," says Borofsky.

Westwood 100 – Volume 1 features graduate success stories

The Westwood 100 is a collection of first-person stories from 100 Westwood College graduates who endured their own challenges and today are role models, business owners, parents, managers, employees, community leaders—and more. The book demonstrates that, while each of the 100 had different experiences, they all shared a common bond by achieving their goals of acquiring a college education and embarking on their careers.

"My hope is that as current students read this special issue of The Buzz and visit the Westwood 100 link, they'll see how many of their fellow students have graduated and gone on to successful careers. In turn, they'll keep their eyes on the prize—a college degree, a meaningful career and a limitless future," Borofsky states. "And who knows, maybe some of them will show up in Westwood 100—Volume 2!"

for Westwood 100-Volume 1

  • Website
  • TV campaign featuring graduates
  • Press release
  • Book distribution: each campus will receive between 70-90 copies of Westwood 100
  • Merchandising: campuses will receive a desplay featuring Westwood 100 graduates
  • Campus event: campuses will host an event to honor the Westwood 100 graduates

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