Monica Juarez in a health care class at Sayville Downtown Center, part of Suffolk County Community College
By Pat Wiedenkeller Front Page of the LI section in the NY Times 11/16/2009
LIFE’S demands have so far kept college and a career out of reach for Monica Juarez. She is 19 and a single mother of two. She works two jobs — at a Waldbaum’s supermarket in Hauppauge and a Teachers Federal Credit Union in Amityville — and shares a one-room apartment in Central Islip with her boys, Alexavier, 2, and Geremiah, 3 months.
That hasn’t kept her from yearning for something better. “It’s too hard,” she said last month, standing outside a community college classroom in Sayville. “I need a bigger place for my kids. Everything is for my kids.”
What brought her to the Sayville Downtown Center, a branch of Suffolk County Community College, is not the usual quest for an associate’s degree.
Instead, Ms. Juarez has spent most weekday evenings since mid-September with eight other students as they hustle through the college’s Pharmacy Technician/Pharmacy Technician Assistant Program. That eight-month, noncredit course will prepare them for a national certification exam. If they pass, they can make $11 to $25 an hour as a retail or hospital pharmacy assistant.
It is one of the fastest-growing occupations in the country, according to the Department of Labor, and Ms. Juarez has decided it is her path to a solid future. “Everyone’s going to need medical care, right?” she said.