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*Masoumeh (Auzar) Varzandeh looks forward to better job with new Bilingual Office Assistant Certificate

Masoumeh (Auzar) Varzandeh moved to the United States about 30 years ago.  The nursing degree she had earned in her homeland, Iran, was useless here as was all her experience as a surgery scrub nurse and a registered nurse.  


Life was filled with many new challenges and it was years before Auzar found work as a retail clerk.  Eventually, she learned that she could learn computer skills that would help her find better work with a better income and essential benefits.  She enrolled in English as a Second Language courses at Shoreline Community College and found work as a customer service representative at the Bank of America.  All was good for five years – then her position was eliminated.  Auzar was lucky – she was hired as an administrative assistant at the bank.  Three years later, she found herself unemployed again.  It was time to go back to school.


Auzar returned to Shoreline CC recently and enrolled in ESL and accounting courses, where she learned about the new Bilingual Office Assistant (BOA) program.  Completion of the coursework would provide her with a certificate in just two quarters – she enrolled immediately.

 “I am so glad I took it, because we had two great teachers - Ruth Duffy and Anita McEntyre,” Auzar said.  “They both are very intelligent, caring and going out of their way to make sure we learn everything.  I learned a lot from them so my skill is a lot higher than before.”


Auzar beams when she talks about her two daughters, Vida and Parisa, and their academic pursuits.  Vida served in Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps and is now going to nursing school at San Diego State University.  Parisa, who graduated from Oregon State University with a 3.8 GPA, is earning her master’s degree at the University of Washington.


Now, she, too, has begun her journey into college academia and looks forward to its rewards.  The determined Auzar has decided to find a job at which she can utilize her new skills and make a livable salary.  She also plans to continue her studies in accounting and English via online and hybrid classes.  Future plans include earning a Payroll Clerk Certificate and working as a bookkeeper/office administrator.   


The Program:
The BOA program offers a win-win situation for non-native students.  Once students reach level five in ESL coursework, they are eligible for the program, and in a matter of months, they are ready to interview for jobs with confidence and are ready to fill much-needed entry-level office positions in a number of office environments. 

The two-quarter program is one of the college’s Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) programs, which allows students to spend less time in school and have clear pathways from entry-level jobs to higher-skilled and better-paying careers in high-demand fields. They also are designed so that students may choose to stay in school or return to earn more advanced degrees. 

Job opportunities are endless – with skills applicable to any industry or business genre.  Graduates earn a Certificate of Completion for the 19-credit program.  Students graduate with word processing, spreadsheet, organizational, communication and human relations skills as well as job-related English skills that prepare them for jobs as administrative assistants, receptionists and office coordinators.

To find out more about the I-BEST training opportunities at Shoreline Community College, please call the ABE/GED/ESL Department at 206-546-4602 and ask for Debby Hunter.  

* Short-term Bilingual Office Program at SCC

SHORELINE — “La Oficina Bilingüe el Programa que Ayudante en el Colegio de la Comunidad de Costa cambió mi vida,” Julia Siquibache says in her native language.    When the Central American native who moved to the Seattle area just 15 months ago uses her new English skills, she says, “The Bilingual Office Assistant Program at Shoreline Community College changed my life.”

Born in El Salvador, Siquibache had lived the past 20 years in Guatemala when she and her family moved here.  She had no job experience and spoke only her native Spanish.  It became necessary for her to not only find work to help support her family, but to learn a new language. 

When Siquibache first arrived, she took English as a Second Language (ESL) classes at Shoreline Community College and earlier this year, she enrolled in the new Bilingual Office Assistant (BOA) program, a two-quarter program that integrates ESL, Adult Basic Education and business classes.   The BOA Program prepares students whose first language is not English for entry-level jobs in a business environment.  Students must already have some English skills to be eligible for the program, and in just six months, they are ready to interview for jobs in a work force that has a high demand for entry-level office positions.  

“Julia, soft-spoken and shy, often would observe her classmates, self-conscious of her own English ability, says Siquibache’s ESL instructor, Ruth Duffy.  “Today, her confidence has flourished.  In the BOA program, not only did she excel in the technology but also in her language skills.  She became a leader in the class, often assisting others who had not quite grasped a particular concept.”

3.jpgSiquibache is one of the first of nine to graduate from the 19-credit program and earn a Certificate of Completion.  She and her fellow graduates have word processing, spreadsheet, organizational, communication and human relations skills that make them eligible for jobs as administrative assistants, receptionists, office coordinators and other entry-level administrative jobs – jobs that are in high demand in business and industry.    Guest speakers from the college, business community and a community-based organization shared their knowledge, experiences and resources with the BOA students as well as provided question and answer sessions.  The students also attended a job fair and received materials from local temp agencies. 

These graduates take their native language skills to the job market as well. 
Humanities Dean Norma Goldstein says that the diversity of the graduates is a real plus for business.  “They would attract employers whose needs for bilingual office assistance is high,” says Goldstein.  

The first graduates are from Nepal, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Gambia, Iran, New Guinea and El Salvador.

Additionally, completion of the program is a great place to start for those who would like to continue their studies and go on to earn a degree. 

“The BOA is designed as a career pathway program that leads to the Business Technology Certificate of Proficiency and the A.A.A.S. degree that prepare them for better-paying jobs in high-demand fields,” says Business Instructor Anita McEntyre.  She says that most of the nine graduates are staying in school to earn degrees.

“Julia has already tested into English 100 and is planning to enroll in the accounting program,” says Duffy, one of the team of two to teach BOA.  She says that research shows that students learn literacy and job skills faster when they enroll in programs like BOA that pair ABE or ESL with work force (occupational skills or professional and technical) training.

The BOA program is one of three Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training
(I-BEST) programs at Shoreline Community College, which train students specifically for jobs that are in demand.  These short-term professional-technical classes incorporate ABE/ESL instruction with technical training resulting in literacy and qualified personnel for the work force.   Graduates have enough basic skills training for entry-level, living wage, high-demand jobs. 

Shoreline Community College is one of 10 colleges in the state to receive state funding to develop and implement I-BEST programs.  Shoreline also offers I-BEST training in the automotive and manufacturing arenas.

To find out more about the I-BEST training opportunities at Shoreline Community College, please call the ABE/GED/ESL Department at 206-546-4602 and ask for Debby Hunter.