Neli & Fabi Esparza (right to left, photo above)
Attended: South Albany High School
Neli earned GED at LBCC
Fabi graduated: Corvallis High School
Honor roll, PTK members
Graduated, AAS degree, Criminal Justice, June 2016
Growing up, the Esparza sisters always did things as a team. Going to college was no exception. The two studied and worked together to earn their Criminal Justice degrees, graduating together in June 2016.
Neli became interested in the criminal justice program partly due to her own personal experience with the justice system. After job shadowing with a probation officer and a juvenile correction officer, she became sure of her career choice. Fabi also spoke with probation officers to learn what they did each day.
“Criminal justice is something that I’ve been interested in for a while,” said Neli. “When we first decided to go to college, we didn’t know what we wanted to study. Doing a job shadow is a great way to learn about a career. After that, I knew for sure it was what I wanted to do.”
Using the college resources is also really important to be successful in college, says Neli and Fabi. In the Learning Center, they received help on assignments and free tutoring sessions for math homework.
“We got a lot of support, which was important,” said Neli. “If we didn't understand something, the tutors worked with us one-on-one. They push you to do better and get it right.”
Another tip from the sisters - try not to take on too much at first. Their advice is to take two or three classes to begin with, saying it helped them to stay focused on the work without feeling too overwhelmed.
The sisters are currently working at a group home with people with mental disabilities. Although challenging, the job has helped them to be more assertive. They also volunteer at Oak Creek Women’s Correctional Facility in Albany, and really enjoy working with the inmates there.
“I’m looking at my options," said Fabi. "I want to volunteer until I figure out what I really want to do. Volunteering is another good way to learn about a job before you make a decision.”