CWA Conference: Defying the Predictable and Driving Dreams


The California Workforce Association Youth Conference: Defy the Predictable inspired eleven OCCC staff members and 8 corpsmembers with motivating workshops and opportunities to meet people from other organizations.

“The beauty of this conference was that not only was it to discuss theories and ideas, but practical examples from the field,” said Director of Programs Lena Skiba. “Staff members were able to get energized by real life examples of people doing amazing work with youth around the country.”

Program Specialist Veronica Yepez said it was an “excellent, excellent training” and particularly enjoyed the workshop “Balancing the Use of Technology with Face-to-Face Communication.” Program Specialist Alicia Diaz was moved by descriptions throughout the conference of the successful impact of programs similar to the OCCC.


Ralph Jimenez discusses workshop options with Julian Gonzalez.

Corpsmembers made the most of the experience by not only attending workshops, but taking turns videotaping as they interviewed staff and participants from other service providers as well as each other. Senior Program Specialist Ralph Jimenez said that corpsmembers found it encouraging to find things in common with participants from the San Jose Conservation Corps. “This experience does make me feel like I’m going somewhere in my life,” said corpsmember Julian Gonzalez as one of his peers interviewed him.

They were “hungry for knowledge,” as Program Specialist Zeara Alvarez noted, so they talked to people from the Santa Barbara Workforce Investment Board, North Orange County ROP and many, many others. Corpsmember Anthony Blancas even got the opportunity to talk to Conference Curator John Baker, who said he loved the “spirit and energy” of the young people at the conference. Our corpsmembers certainly showed theirs.

Anthony Blancas with OCCC Placement and Recruitment Specialist Susan Soria

Anthony Blancas with OCCC Placement and Recruitment Specialist Susan Soria

In interviewing others and fully engaging in the conference, the corpsmembers discovered their own drive. “I’m really proud of being here,” said corpsmember Jorge Giron. “I see myself touching the sky when I’m here.” Way to defy the predictable, Jorge!

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