Worker Voices: Fresno Residents on Post-Secondary Education

Blog Post
Aug. 18, 2020

In early 2020, New America CA's research team conducted in-depth interviews with 35 Fresno County residents employed in regionally prevalent industries, whose lives could be upended by job change or loss due to the changing nature of work or tech-related shifts. Most of those interviewed were already experiencing some level of economic precarity and the interviews spanned topics both personal and professional. The conversations underscored how critical workers' voices are to unlocking solutions for both the present and future of work. Below are some examples of what respondents shared on the topic of Post-secondary Education.

Read the executive summary brief here and the complete research findings here.

Kevin would like to go to college, but wants guidance to feel confident he's choosing the right path

"I’m really good with computers and stuff so I’d probably find some web design to do. I’d probably go to school for that. Well, first I’d probably talk to a counselor or something. That’s something I have been thinking about...I would want to get a degree, but at the same time I don’t necessarily know exactly what I’d want so I’d want to talk to someone first just to make sure so I know I’m not just blindly going into something."

Ron studied at a local community college, but couldn’t continue his education due to financial challenges

“I've got like 20 units in right now so far... But I had financial problems— I was paying for my own schooling because I’m in default on a student loan from when I was in Florida, so I don’t have financial aid. And I can't afford, at this job, to continue.”  

Michael wishes he had gotten a degree after exiting the military

"When I got out of the military I had a marketable job skill as an aircraft mechanic, but working on civilian airplanes didn't interest me and I didn't really want to go to school. That's how I ended up getting into sales because I wanted to be able to still earn a good living, but I did not want to go to school to do it. I kind of wish I had that bachelor’s degree now and I've looked at online schools for that but I have a block in my brain on the school for some reason. I need to dissolve that block somehow."

Fiona was studying in the medical field until her college shut down. She is now pursuing post-secondary education, a career, and promotion pathways via a more flexible college option.

"I was like, I need a career. I need to really just be serious like I was in school in the past. I went to college and I went to school for medical assisting. But I never completed it because the school closed down and I always told myself that I won't ever give up on college. So I had on a whim, when I was visiting Sacramento in November, I was like, maybe, I should go here [a split on-line and in-person university] and inquire about getting my degree and see what they have to offer me.  

*Names have been changed for privacy

Follow the provided links for interviewee perceptions of Work and Income, Family, Health and Safety, and Experiences of Fresno.