For most of his life Jesus Crisantos was very passive and took life as it came but after two years away from his family due to incarceration, he was determined to take all the effort and hard work he had put in a negative lifestyle and focus on his own success and a career that would allow him to be a part of his children’s lives.
He found the opportunity he was looking for and a stepping-stone in the right direction at UEI College in Bakersfield.
“I’m not a kid anymore. I’m not looking for my way in life,” Jesus said. “I was looking for a career that brought me happiness. A career that I could have a balance between work and family. An opportunity to free myself from an unstable lifestyle.”
Jesus is no stranger to working hard. He has a business management degree and managed the food and beverage department at Dodger Stadium and the Staples Center. Responsible for over 60 employees on any given night, he didn’t mind the hard work. The food and beverage industry is very demanding and busiest on evenings and weekends, leaving very little time to watch his children grow up. Being arrested really put things in perspective.
“I’ve never had a problem providing for my family,” he said. “Trying to make extra money to give them a better life, in an unfavorable way, had ripped me out of their lives in a blink of an eye and left me away and not being able to provide. I am optimistic and believe things happen for reason, and that reason might change your life.”
In the halfway house after his release, Jesus began to search for a career that would allow him to have some free time with his kids. He saw a flyer for UEI College’s Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) program and decided to give it a try.
“It being such a different career path than what I’ve done—more mechanical, but I’ve always been intrigued,” he said. “I like working on things, fixing things. What interested me about school was a teacher who told us all these fields you can go into as an HVAC technician. It’s not just fixing ACs, it’s motors, logic controllers, sales, and the opportunity to have your own clients. It’s something that piqued my interest. An interest that is in high demand here in Bakersfield and surrounding areas.”
What was most exciting about the school, to Jesus, was the support from Career Services in helping him find a job after graduation. He began working with them several months before he graduated.
“He told me from the beginning ‘I’m just going to let you know, I’m going to be bugging you,’” said Elwin Rios, Senior Career Services Specialist at UEI Bakersfield. “I told him he could come to check in with me any time. I saw the drive in him. I saw that he was committed. He was showing up, he was meeting with me, he was checking in with me every week.”
Because of his record, Jesus faced an extra hurdle when it came to finding employment. He had several interviews that seemed promising, even one job offer on the spot that was later rescinded. Elwin kept searching and Jesus kept pushing.
“He worked really well with me. He was one of the most reliable and dependable students,” Elwin said. “Any time I needed to get a hold of him he would answer. If there were opportunities or interviews, he was on it. He wouldn’t even wait for me to give him the time to go to interview, he would make it a point to go out there himself ahead of time.”
By the time graduation rolled around, Jesus found a company willing to hire him.
“It feels really good,” he said. “It’s demoralizing when you try to change your past, you get that far, and it gets snatched from you. Elwin stuck with it, he stuck with his word, and I kept doing what I was supposed to do, going to interviews. It felt good and it feels good now.”
The key to his success, Jesus said, is sticking with his goals.
“If you want it, go get it,” he said “There are a lot of people who give up. I don’t know if it’s an age thing, but you can’t give up. You’ve got people who depend on you. If you want something, you’ve got to go get it. People are going to help you. There might be an organization that helps you, but you have to do your part for them to do theirs. In life you get what you put in. As long as you keep going for what you want and believing in yourself, it shall be done, that breeds success.”