Cerritos College hosts first So Cal Expo Fair for Plaza Comunitaria

Rob Flores

Cerritos College celebrated its 10th anniversary with Plaza Comunitaria on Saturday, Sept. 12 by hosting the first Expo Fair for the program in Southern California.

The event was held from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the Cerritos College Parking Lot 6 near the PST Building.

Adult Education program coordinator Daryabuth Martinez, who planned the event for six months, said, “Our program serves as a bridge to learn English and get to a GED.”

Martinez invited several branches of the Plaza Comunitaria program:

  • Carecen
  • Universidad De Colima
  • Santa Ana College
  • Orange Educational Center
  • San Juan Capistrano
  • Pomona
  • Consulado General De Mexico en Los Angeles
  • Casa Guerrero
  • Zacatecas
  • El Sol Academy
  • Valley High School
  • San Fernando
  • Focoica (Benito Juarez)
  • Patricia Perez was one of those in attendance.

She represented the Los Angeles Office of the Mexican Government Consul de Protecion.

According to Perez, her duties include defending the rights of Mexicans in the United States by providing them food, legal representation, and clothing.

She added, “We also have shelter services available to victims of domestic abuse. For more information about us, you should refer to our website.”

Event attendant Guillermina Vasquez was a product of the Cerritos College program.

Vasquez said, “I started in 2003 taking ELS, then I worked my way to the computer literacy course and then got my GED where I graduated in 2010.”

She took one semester of the mechanical automatism course, but hasn’t been able to continue due to not qualifying for financial aid.

Vasquez, however, is proud to be an example for her children.

She now works for the South Whittier School District as a noon duty supervisor.

She has used her English speaking skills, she learned at Cerritos College, to translate at district meetings for Spanish speaking parents.

Roberto Soto, who owns his own steam cleaning business, said, “Even though I am financially stable I know it is important to learn English.”

Soto started elementary level education about three months ago.

He started working in steam cleaning with family and saved his money to buy a used cleaner to start his own business after being referred to customers.

His wife would help translate and his son did most of the behind the scenes work while Soto did the labor.

According to Associate Dean of Adult Education, Graciela Vasquez, Cerritos College partnered with Plaza Comunitaria in 2005.

Vasquez noted, the Cerritos College Adult Education continues to keep Plaza Comunitaria, thanks to financial supporters: Cerritos College Foundation, Familia Reynoso Gonzalez and the North Gate Market.

Adult Education Program Assistant for Cerritos College Anayely Loaiza said, “I started working here six months ago, making emails and spreading the word about today’s event.”

Loaiza was pleased with the turn out and wants the community to be aware of the resources available to them.

Olga Gonzalez, Coordinator of Plaza Comunitaria for the Carecen site, explained that her program is online and offers a variety of services like: GED education (six month semesters sign up September or February,) Eight Bachelor Degrees (six month semesters sign up September or February,) Six Masters Degrees (enrollment once a year in October) and two PH.D Degrees (enrollment once a year in October)

Gonzelez said, “We get diverse students, and they work at their own pace. After taking an assessment, some come in speaking different dialects, we have to start by teaching them Spanish.