When Lizeth Delgado attended Gilbert Unified School District’s Desert Ridge High School, she enrolled in cosmetology courses at the East Valley Institute of Technology.
After graduating from high school and living abroad, Delgado, 21, is back in the Valley, and back at Mesa’s EVIT to finish the program she started.
Delgado is one of a growing number of adults turning to EVIT for job training that could lead to employment.
Across 10 high school districts, EVIT is known for its job courses that prepare teen students in the fields of health care, automotive repair, cosmetology and more.
In the evening, the school turns its resources over to adults for the same type of training.
As of January, more than 200 adults were enrolled in classes, ranging from collision repair to advanced nursing assistant to welding and HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) repair. At the same time last year, there were 157 adult students. In 2008, there were 159 adult students.
“The biggest reason we started these high-dollar adult programs (such as surgical tech) is because we wanted a place for our graduates to go,” EVIT Superintendent Sally Downey said. “We were finding our health core would come through, then when they graduated, they wanted to go on up the ladder and there were waiting lists (at schools). So we started a p.m. program. They could graduate from EVIT and come back post secondary.”
Adults are those who have a high school diploma or GED or are older than 22.
Unlike the daytime program for high school students, adults pay tuition, ranging from a $200, 40-hour program in upholstery to a $10,000, 1,600-hour cosmetology program.
“I learned a lot from the school so I decided to finish my cosmetology (license),” said Delgado, who takes her last class on Wednesday. “I’m going to be looking to rent a chair or starting part-time and working my way from the ground up.”
Delgado is currently working as an insurance agent, as well as studying for a business degree at Mesa Community College. She hopes to one day own her own salon.
Downey said “the phone is ringing off the hook,” from adults wanting to learn more about programs at EVIT.
“We’re getting more and more inquiries, and more and more people who want to come and get a skill. They have intentions of someday going on to college. We certainly promote that. But right now, they don’t have the luxury of two to four years, and they want a skill so they can be employed. That’s the piece EVIT tries to carve out,” Downey said.
The most popular classes are those in health fields, where students can prepare to be a certified nursing assistant, a surgical technician or massage therapist.
That’s the road Katrina Perkins is taking. The Phoenix resident (in her early 40s) sought a second career after owning several businesses. Last fall, she enrolled in EVIT’s surgical technician program. She graduates Wednesday.
“It’s something I had an interest in, even though I didn’t know this specific field was available. I’ve always been interested in operating … this fits it,” Perkins said.
Surgical technicians must study anatomy, operating instrumentation and sterilization techniques.
“We’re right there with the surgeons, handing them instruments, being involved with patient care with them. It has to do with how clean we can keep things, knowing what to do with instruments and the equipment, how to protect the sterile field, the physician and the patient,” Perkins said. “It’s much, much more extensive. I had no idea.”
During her clinical rotations, she’s seen C-sections, laparoscopic surgery and robotic surgery.
After she finishes her certificate, she’ll apply to sit for the national exam. But she’s already putting out job applications as well.
“It’s exciting. It’s an opportunity to get in and help people in a way most people have no idea,” Perkins said.
EVIT will start an EMT/paramedic program in the fall, after construction completes on its second health science building.
For more information, visit www.evit.com.