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We can proudly say that many of our HEP graduates go on to accomplish great things in education and in the work force! Below you will find the personal stories (in their own words) of some of our graduates.We hope you agree that their resilience and determination serve as inspiration, but more importantly, validation that you can do it too! 

Podemos decir con gran orgullo que varios de nuestros graduados han alcanzado grandes logros educativos y en su empleo! Adelate encontrara las historias personales (ens us propias palabras) de algunos de nuestros graduados. Esperamos que este de acuerdo que su resistencia y determinacion sirven como inspiracion, pero mas importante, confirman que usted tambien lo puede hacer!


“I want to have another mommy!  I don’t want you because you don’t spend time with me, you don’t take me to school when its open house, and you don’t even have time to play with me!” exclaimed my 4-year-old daughter Emily with tears running through her cheeks. With my heart broken and tears in my eyes, I hugged my daughter and tried to explain to her why I didn’t have time to do all those things with her. 

That afternoon Emily and I were having dinner together because I woke up at three in the morning that day to go work at Ross, a department store, and after that I went straight to Hartnell College to attend my classes and I just had enough time to run home and eat with my daughter so I could go back to the college and work at the High School Equivalency Program (HEP) where I would be working until nine at night.  This was my daily routine.  She would spend more time under my mother’s care and my brother would be the one to take her and pick her up from school.  My daughter, just like myself, was struggling to adjust to her new life in the United States.  I was born in California, and was taken to live in Mexico when I was two years old.  I returned with my mother and brother when I was 20, just to renew my U.S. passport, but due to the bad economy in Mexico, we all decided to start working in the lettuce fields.  Three months later, I returned to see my daughter in Mexico, because I had left her with my husband and she was getting sick because I was not with her.  Seeing the hope of a better future in this country, I decided to bring my husband and daughter to live in the United States with me.  I brought my daughter over one year later and this is when she started resenting me.

   Emily was waiting for my explanation.  I sat down with her and explained that life was tough in Mexico, because money was scarce; therefore, we sometimes struggled to have enough food to eat.  She seemed to be remembering and continued crying.  I asked her if she wanted her daddy to be with us and she said yes.  I then told her that in order for her daddy to come live with us I would have to continue working very hard in my two jobs and just like her, I was going to study a lot and get good grades, so I could learn English and in a near future work towards a degree.  I told her that I sometimes felt lonely, too, and that I also wanted to return to Mexico, but we were both going to work towards our dream of a better future.  Emily smiled, wiped her tears and said to me, “My daddy is going to come soon and work hard, and when you finish school, we are going to have a big house, go on vacations together to Disneyland and you are finally going to have more time to play with me, right?”  “Of course, sweetie,” I replied. 

   Four years have passed, and my husband and daughter are by my side, as well as my mother and brother.  I am now three years away from obtaining my bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from CSUMB and Hartnell College (CSIT in 3) and it seems like a dream.  My daughter Emily is now my greatest motivator and she wants me to succeed.  She knows that all our hard work will pay off one day.  Having obtained my GED from HEP and having worked there, as well, I learned to value the tenacity of my community when granted an opportunity to better themselves.  I would love to return to my community and continue helping the children by creating computer-based programs that will help them compete in tomorrow’s technology-driven careers, whether it’s through teaching and/or designing the programs themselves.  One of my goals after graduating from the Computer Science and Information Technology program is to find a job in a big company such as; Google, Apple, Facebook and many more. To create a big impact, since I have many ideas that I want to share with them in order to improve lives in my communities.


Mi nombre es Nancy Nuño. Llegué a los Estados Unidos en el año 2007 como madre soltera con tres hijos adolescentes. Cuando llegue tuve que trabajar en el campo porque ese era el único trabajo que podía encontrar recién llegada de México. No tenía ninguna preparación académica y no sabía hablar inglés. En México mi educación académica solamente llego hasta la secundaria, después me case, tuve a mis hijos y yo pensaba que ya era tarde para regresar a los estudios y poder terminar una carrera. Estuve trabajando en diferentes trabajos temporales y para lo único que me alcanzaba era para poder pagar la renta y comida. Una tarde llegando al cuarto donde vivía con mis hijos después de una jornada larga de trabajo, me pregunté a mí misma, sí ese era el trabajo que quería tener para el resto de mi vida. En el 2008 empecé a tomar clases de inglés en la escuela de adultos, aunque a veces no podía asistir por el horario de trabajo. Al poco tiempo de asistir a la escuela de adultos fue una reclutadora del programa HEP (High School Equivalency Program/Programa de Equivalencia de Preparatoria), Julia Mena, a darnos información acerca del programa y me di cuenta de que el programa ayudaba a los trabajadores del campo a obtener su equivalencia de preparatoria, gratis. Entonces, me decidí a tomar clases para pasar los exámenes para obtener mi certificado del GED. Gracias a las clases gratis, los libros y el material necesario, en el año 2009 me gradué del programa HEP. Pensé que todo iba a parar ahí pero el consejero del programa HEP Carlos Chávez me ayudo para inscribirme en el Colegio Hartnell y así poder continuar con las clases de ESL (English as Second a Language/ inglés como segunda lengua) y después con las clases de BOT (Business Office Technology/ Tecnología de oficina de negocios). Desde entonces, seguí con la idea de seguirme preparando para obtener un trabajo mejor. Me gustaba la idea de algún día poder trabajar en una oficina y no tener que regresar a trabajar en el campo. Siento mucho respeto por los trabajadores del campo porque alguna vez fui parte de ellos. Mi formación académica sigue, hasta ahora he obtenido dos certificados: Information Processing (Procesamiento de Informacion) y Bookkeeping (Contabilidad) y en cuanto supe que en el programa HEP había una vacante para trabajar como GED Facilitator (Facilitador de GED), llene la aplicación, después me entrevistaron y ahora estoy trabajando ahí. Me parece un sueño lo que estoy viviendo, ya no tengo que trabajar más en el campo! Mi vida cambio gracias al programa HEP.

Agradezco al programa HEP por brindarme la oportunidad de seguir estudiando y apoyarme en todo lo necesario para lograr mis metas.



My name is Floriberto Garcia. I was born and raised in a small town in Oaxaca, Mexico. I come from a family of seven that has always struggled with a lack of financial resources and opportunities to improve our lives. In my native country, my siblings and I did not have the opportunity to continue our education beyond primary school because my parents did not have the money to pay our tuition and to support our family. For this reason, I looked for different alternatives to help my family, since money has always been a major concern.

           In March of 2000, when I was only 16 years old, I decided to migrate to the United States in order to help my family financially. Once I arrived in the United States, I began working in the fields cutting lettuce and broccoli in Salinas, CA, as well as in Arizona. I performed this job for approximately seven years, until one day while working I asked myself whether I wanted to work in the fields for the rest of my life. After considering my situation, I decided that I had to return to school, learn English and then pursue a higher education in order to obtain a better job that would bring financial stability for my family. Consequently, I enrolled at the Salinas Adult School to learn English.

   The new transition was very difficult for me at times, as there were a few occasions when I wanted to give up on adult school. Learning after spending ten hours working in the fields left me continuously exhausted. With work during the day and study in the evenings, there often wasn’t time for me to eat properly. Each day was filled with choices like eating a meal or getting to ESL class on time. Those were really difficult times, but all I wanted to do was to learn English and be able to continue my education. I knew I needed guidance to determine my educational path, but I didn’t always know where to find it.

   Fortunately, one day in class, I met a staff member from HEP (High School Equivalency Program) named Julia Mena, who presented information about the services HEP was offering to people who would be interested in obtaining their GED. I was both happy and eager for the information and opportunity that HEP presented me with, mainly since I was looking for this type of information in order to continue with my goal of obtaining a higher education. Hence, in May of 2008 I enrolled in GED courses that were offered at Hartnell Community College through the HEP Program.  By the end of 2008, I had passed all of the required exams for GED. Without wasting any time, in January of 2009, I enrolled in a vocational training at CET (Center for Employment Training), in San Jose in order to avoid going back to working in the fields. After completing my training in Auto Repair, I enrolled at Hartnell Community College to take ESL classes with Carlos Chavez' assistance. This was a major step in my journey because it provided me with an actual school environment that I had not experienced since primary school. In January of 2010, I started taking classes toward an International Business major. Being in school brought me joy, the prospect of better job opportunities, and the knowledge that I was doing everything I could to support my family.

   While I was working on my Associate Degree at Hartnell College, I had the opportunity to become a HEP staff member. As a staff member, I’d have the chance to assist students with similar backgrounds to mine in achieving their dreams of obtaining their GED Certificate. Moreover, this opportunity helped me acquire experience in a different work environment and developed different skills that I continue to utilize today. Although I really enjoyed my job in the HEP Program, I had to move on to the next phase in life due to graduating from Hartnell in spring of 2013. After graduating with an associate degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences, with the suport of  the TRiO program,  I was able to transfer to UC Davis to continue my education, and obtain a bachelor’s degree in Sociology with an emphasis in General Social Work.

    I began my senior year at the University of California Davis during Fall of 2014. I can now proudly say that I am a UC Davis Alumni, class of 2015! I look forward to applying to a different University in order to continue with my education and achieve a Master’s Degree in School Counseling. Although my journey has not been easy, I remain optimistic that all of my hard work will bring a big pay off into my life. The years I spent juggling multiple responsibilities taught me that nothing worth having comes easily. With hard work, and a set mind toward your goals, you will be able to achieve your dreams. 


Todo comenzó cuando me inscribí a las clases de ESL que ofrece el Colegio Hartnell y tuve una orientación en King City proporcionada por la consejera Emily Zúñiga, explicaba información de este colegio. Emily inmediatamente me contactó con Roberto García quien fue directamente a buscarme y a explicarme que el programa HEP pagaría por todos los exámenes del GED, con la condición de que yo o alguien de mi familia hayan trabajado en el campo. Cumplí con los requisitos y al poco tiempo comencé a tomar clases para prepararme para los exámenes. Me proporcionaron libros y materiales que necesitaba, pero me daba miedo tomar los exámenes. Una vez que tomé el primero vi buenos resultados, me emocioné tanto que ya hacía uno tras otro y en menos de cinco meses yo ya había completado todos mis exámenes. Meses después me llegó mi certificado y culminó con una gran graduación en el Colegio Hartnell donde me sentí muy contento por el logro. Ese fue un gran paso en mi vida porque muchas oportunidades han estado llegando.

Actualmente Manuel está estudiando y trabajando en el Colegio Hartnell como técnico en computación. Su meta es seguir estudiando y graduarse del colegio y de la universidad y a la vez motivar a las personas a estudiar. 

It all began when I enrolled in the ESL courses that Hartnell College offered and sat-in on an orientation offered by Emily Zuniga at King City where she gave information on Hartnell. Emily immediately had me contact Roberto Garcia who looked for me and explained that HEP would pay for all GED exams with the condition that I, or an immediate family member, be employed in agricultural field work.  I met the requirements and in a short time began taking classes to prepare for the GED. They offered me books and material needed for class, but I was afraid to take the exams.  Once I took the first exam I noticed positive results, so I was so encouraged that I began to take one test after the other and in less than five months I had completed all five exams. Months later I received the certificate by mail and participated in a recognition ceremony at Hartnell College where I felt very proud of my accomplishment.  That was a huge step for my life and many opportunities have arisen because of it.

Currently Manuel is studying and working at Hartnell College as a computer technician. His goals are to continue studying and graduate from college and the university and at the same time motivate students to study.