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Learning English & Job Skills Helped David Transition into a New Career

By Alma Almanza, Salinas, CA

David Estrada is 36-years-old. He was born in the state of Michoacán, Mexico. He is the 5th child in a family of 9 siblings. At age 15, after he had finished 9th grade, David came to the United States with his cousins looking for a better life.

English was the first barrier David encountered in his search for employment. The only job he could find without any English was working in the fields. David worked in the fields for 12 years, driving a tractor, cutting, packing and carrying boxes of lettuce. In 2000 at age 32, David injured his back carrying boxes. He became disabled and had to undergo back surgery. Unable to continue working, David was very frustrated. Eventually David overcame his frustration with the support of his wife and his therapist.

David had been married for six years when he was injured. He knew he needed to learn English in order to obtain employment to support himself and his wife. It was then he decided to attend the local Adult School and take an English as a Second Language (ESL) class. David studied ESL for six months and then registered in a driving course to learn to drive buses and obtain the driving license required. Once David obtained his driving license, he became employed with the company that provides Paratransit services in Monterey County. He has been driving Paratransit vans for three and one-half years.

David considers himself successful because he has a three-year-old daughter and both he and his wife are employed. They are homeowners and invest their savings in real state.

"When I became disabled, I never thought that all doors were closed for me," David stated. "I learned to speak English and started to look for opportunities available to me," he added. David wants people with disabilities to remember that, "you can not give up on life because of a disability. One has to look for opportunities to be successful in achieving ones goals."