For years Kathy Guevara had convinced herself she wouldn’t be successful going back to school, but when her fiancée enrolled and was enjoying his classes, he convinced her not to put her dreams on hold any longer—even with her fourth child on the way.
“I tell myself I waited a long time, but everything happens for a reason, and I started for a reason,” Kathy said.
The main reason was after years of abusive relationships, Kathy finally had the support to make a change. She had always dreamed of finishing school, but she had always been talked out of it.
“A lot of that came from my background,” she said. “I was in abusive relationships. I was always belittled and told I would never be anything in life. That was a lot of what stuck in my head and made me think they were probably right.”
Kathy had three children at home that she was caring for and was newly pregnant when her now fiancée, Aman Wishard, began the HVAC Training Program at UEI College in Encino (now located in Reseda). Aman came from a tough past himself and seeing him succeed in his courses felt like the push Kathy had been waiting for. He convinced her it was possible to go back to school and still juggle working and providing for her kids.
“She would always talk down about herself going to school and say I’m a mom, I have three kids to worry about,” Aman said. “I just said you have all the help and support you need. I have your back with the kids. When she decided to go it was a blessing. She was finally pursuing her dream and doing what she wants to. I just pushed her and motivated her.”
While Aman continued his courses during the day, Kathy signed up for the Dental Assisting Program at night.
“I saw how much he loved it,” Kathy said. “Knowing his background and seeing his change it motivated me hard. I knew if he could do it, I could do it. I was very afraid when I signed up but once I got my feet in there, I was on the go.”
‘THAT MADE ME EVEN STRONGER’
Kathy had always dreamed of being a part of the dental field.
“Going to the dentist as a kid, I was afraid, but my mom was on top of taking us every six months,” she said. “Seeing the way they work, to me that was cool. They are very hands on. I’m a very hands-on person. It was interesting to me.”
Kathy was nervous about starting the program while pregnant but she quickly found her passion outweighed any physical discomfort she might have felt.
“I pushed through it,” she said. “I could talk. I could use my hands. I was going to keep going.”
Even Kathy’s instructors recognized her drive.
“I chose her as a mentor for the class and she did great,” said Ana Giron, Associate Instructor at the Encino campus. “She was early to class all the time and would text me if I needed her to set up anything for me. She was willing to help everybody. She would finish her work ahead of time so she had time to help the class. She was very committed. She was always there and always on time.”
“That even shocked me, being a mentor,” Kathy admitted. “I never saw myself going to school. I always told myself I can’t do this. This isn’t me. I won’t be able to do it. They came to me and asked me to be a mentor in class and I even cried. Never in a million years would this opportunity cross my mind. It was becoming a mentor that made me even stronger and made me think higher of myself.”
‘I DON’T WANT TO MISS!’
Eventually Kathy did have to take a break from the program to deliver her healthy baby girl but she waited until the last possible second to do so.
“She was pregnant and the last mod that she was here, she was in labor and she still came to class,” Ana said. “She did a Zoom class from the hospital. She was in the hospital having her baby and she was in my Zoom class. I was like ‘Kathy, what are you doing?’ She said ‘Miss, I don’t want to miss!’ at the end of class she sent me a picture, she had delivered the baby. It was hilarious. She is something else.’
It was her children who kept her motivated to attend class, Kathy said. She was not going to let anything stop her from reaching her goal for them.
“Watching my kids every day, they would see me put on my scrubs,” Kathy said. “My children telling me I could do it motivated me even more. I wanted to show them an example too. You can be whatever you want in life. Don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot.”
Kathy and Aman were able to walk together at graduation. Kathy returned to finish her externship after having her baby and was hired there upon completion.