Every step brought her closer to her goal 

“The best part of my job is knowing that I make other people’s days better,” said Evelyn Zaragoza.

 Zaragoza, age 21, works in cleaning at the Asante medical office building in White City, Oregon. She enjoys her job, especially because she knows that by keeping the offices clean and safe she’s making it a better place for everyone who comes to the building. 

Finding a job that she loves didn’t just happen by chance. Zaragoza’s success happened because she worked hard at every step along the way, said Melanie Rodgers, Youth Transition Specialist (YTP) for the Southern Oregon Education Service District. “Evelyn has so much tenacity—she pays attention to little details and she’s always up for learning more,” said Rodgers.

After graduating from Eagle Point High School, Zaragoza felt she had more to learn before searching for full-time employment. She chose to continue her schooling through the local transition program. “My teacher taught me how to think about what kind of job I wanted. I learned so much about how to work—everything I needed to know,” said Zaragoza. By the time she graduated from the transition program at age 21, she felt ready to take on the working world.


Taking a goal step by step

As a transition student, Zaragoza had a paid work experience at Head Start. She learned that she enjoyed working with kids, especially in a way that helped to keep them safe and happy. She also participated in a CPR class, a class on working in a retail shop and a class on using the public bus system. All of those extra classes helped build her skills for living independently and succeeding at her current job.

Her first month on the job was challenging at times, said Zaragoza. “I had so many questions at first, even after training. Then I found a co-worker I could ask. I can also ask my manager questions. Then I learned how to do everything I need to do,” she said. One tip she’d give other transition students as they start a new job is to speak up and ask questions right away, so they learn the job quickly.

Zaragoza also holds her mom up as a role model. “My mom taught me how to help people. She is really good in emergencies and knows what to do,” she said.

Looking down the road, Zaragoza plans to keep working at her current job for many years. If she decides to make a change at some point, it will surely be to another job where she can continue to make people’s days better and safer.