Garfield Campus Offers Free Classes and More

ALSION GELLER
El Vaquero Staff Writer

Garfield, not the lasagna loving cat, but Glendale College’s other campus, offers tuition-free noncredit classes that students can enroll in at any time and become part of its growing community.

Unknown to many, Glendale College has two campuses: the main campus, located on Verdugo Road, and Garfield Campus, which is tucked away on Garfield Avenue right off of Chevy Chase. Many who live in the area don’t even know it’s there.

Denise Guerra heard about the Garfield Campus through the Verdugo Job Center after becoming unemployed. She found that Garfield was close to where she lived and she didn’t even know about it. After speaking to a counselor at the campus she found that it was exactly what she needed and has been a student for the past six months.
“Most are here because we lost our jobs,” said Guerra. “We’re here to learn [computer] techniques. The computer classes here are amazing. Everyone, both the students and teachers, always go the extra mile.”

Garfield is like its own little community according to both Guerra and Keith Herried, who has been a student at Garfield for the past six months. They have become good friends since meeting on campus. Herried said that just recently he, Guerra and some other friends on campus were talking over lunch about how if it weren’t for becoming unemployed they would never have found Garfield campus and never have met each other.

“When I first lost my job I was so upset,” said Guerra. “Everyday now I thank them for losing my job because I wouldn’t be here.”

Many of the students attending classes at Garfield are either between jobs and are trying to update their skills, or are learning English.

The campus is home to several continuing education programs and best of all: they’re free and offer flexible scheduling. There is also low-cost child care for full and part-time Garfield students, as long as the student remains on campus and doesn’t just drop off their child and go elsewhere.

Students can take many different classes: business math and accounting, medical front office, keyboarding, computer, ESL, parental education and lifelong learning. They can also take GED prep courses and citizenship classes. The GED and Citizenship tests require a fee.

“The quality of what they’re learning here is top notch and it’s free,” said Annette Amirian, a professor at Garfield for the past four years. “And I think a lot of people go to other institutions and pay a lot of money for less. What they get out of it is less then what they can come here and get.”

Amirian teaches business math, accounting and two different computerized accounting programs: Quickbooks and Peachtree.

“We offer a lot of classes here,” said Amirian. “A lot of our computerized classes: Excel, Access, Quickbooks, Peachtree, Word, Powerpoint. These classes are important for people moving into business and want to work. We offer these classes and you can come here and learn these and be proficient in them. And it’s free. Anywhere else you can pay a lot of money. I’m talking about these private institutions that charge you thousands of dollars to take their classes. For which you can come here for free and get the same if not better quality of information and you can take the classes as many times as you need to, to absorb the material.”

Herried said that at a previous job he was in charge of sending people out to be trained in computer skills. According to him, his company would have expected to pay about $200 a day per employee to get such high quality training on this type of software.

“Classes here are cutting edge,” said Herried, who has been a paralegal for the past 20 years and is currently between jobs. He’s at Garfield upgrading all of his computer skills, and he also took a class in medical terminology and got a certificate for it.
When Guerra was asked why she recommends this campus to others, she said it was because of “the support that we get from the instructors, the patience and their high quality techniques of teaching.”

“I love teaching here,” said Amirian. “It’s a lot of fun. I love my students, I love my colleagues. I’ve worked at other places before but this is by far the most positive and most fun working environment I’ve ever had.”

Among students who take advantage of Garfield’s non-credit ESL classes, many move on to credit ESL on the main campus. The counselors at Garfield are very helpful in making sure the students know what they need to transfer and are prepared for it.

Genia Daroosia is an ESL student at Garfield. She says she likes taking the classes at Garfield because “the teachers explain everything very well and they move slowly so the students really learn it.”

According to Debi Wootton, the Assistant Director of Work Force Training and Marketing for Garfield Campus, the ESL program is the largest program on campus. Students can enroll the same day they begin taking classes and that is true for most of the classes. The exceptions are the computer classes, because starting a week late can make it hard to understand what’s going on.

The “Campus Profile 2005” published by the Research and Planning Unit says that there are just over 7,000 students who currently attend Garfield.

Both Guerra and Herried have referred people to Garfield and plan on continuing to take classes there even after they are once again employed.

And they feel that when the time comes, to find new jobs, they will do very well in their interviews because of the classes they have taken at the Career Center at Garfield.

“There is a program here called “21st Century Job Search,” said Herried. “It helps you update your resumes, teaches you how to search for jobs online, and teaches you survival skills [for the workplace].”

The class teaches students what to expect in job interviews and how to reply to the questions an employer might ask.

And students who are parents don’t have to worry about who will watch their children and how they will afford child care if they take classes there. Garfield, since 2001, has offered child care services for children ages 3 to 5, who are potty-trained. The cost is $3 to $5 per hour. Another benefit is proximity. Parents can see their kids from campus because it overlooks the yard the children play in. The parents can also come over and have snack time with their kids.

And in case students need some help coping because of the stress caused by a lost job or any other type of crisis counseling, Garfield offers Mental Heath Counseling.

The campus facilities leave much to be desired; there is no cafeteria, though they do have a catering truck that comes by for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have no eating area except for one table and the short wall surrounding the building. The bungalows across the way need a little work, but the students don’t mind.

But, according to Jane DiLucchio, Division Chair of Continuing Education Business and Life Skills, Garfield campus plans to expand and improve its instructional facilities though it’s unclear when the project will begin.

The Garfield Campus is at 1122 E. Garfield Ave. For information about classes, call Debi Wootton at (818) 548-5233.