Almost immediately after Ruben Lopez enrolled in Whittier Union Adult School’s first-ever Electrician 1 and Math/Electrician classes – designed to help students pass the apprenticeship application and pursue a career as an electrician – the global pandemic shifted the program to distance learning.
Undeterred, Lopez participated enthusiastically in online classes, absorbing as much electrical theory as he could until he was able to put his knowledge to the test when in-person workshops resumed. For his final project, Lopez successfully demonstrated his mastery of electric circuitry and graduated at the top of his class.
“My girlfriend’s father is an electrician and he inspired me to take the class,” Lopez said. “It was a huge challenge to take the course online, without getting the hands-on instruction, but our teacher Alfredo Salas was patient and diligent, and worked with us until we had complete understanding of electrical components and concepts. I am very happy that I stuck with it.”
Early this summer, Whittier Union Adult School partner America’s Job Center of California (AJCC) contacted assistant principal Juan Anzaldo on behalf of Bumble Bee Tuna, wanting to interview the course’s top three students. The Santa Fe Springs-based company was looking to develop its own in-house, community-based electricians.
Lopez and his former classmates all interviewed for the jobs and were hired by Bumble Bee, which set up an on-site training program, administered by AJCC, that allows the electricians to get paid while learning their trade.
“Ruben Lopez personifies what Whittier Union Adult School represents to our community: the potential to learn a trade that can eventually turn into a professional career providing an essential service,” Anzaldo said. “This was our first electrician class, and we are proud that our top students are already being hired locally. The alliance between the adult school, AJCC and Bumble Bee is creating viable opportunities for students here in our own community.”
In his three months on the job at Bumble Bee, Lopez is excelling in his transition from residential to industrial electrician and has already received a raise.
“I was very surprised when Mr. Anzaldo contacted me about the job opportunity,” Lopez said. “Job placement is just one of the valuable services that Whittier Union Adult School provides, and I am very grateful to the entire staff for their willingness to go above and beyond to provide students an opportunity to work. This has been a very positive experience for me, and I would recommend it to anyone.”
WUHSD_ELECTRICIAN1: Whittier Union Adult School Class of 2021 graduate Ruben Lopez, who graduated at the top of his class, has started a career as an industrial electrician.