By Kay Walburger.

Computers Enhanced My Self-esteem And Increased My Networth! Who Knew?

Computer Illiterate? Overwhelmed by Technology? Information Age Phobia? Middle-Age Memory Loss? Financially Challenged or Dyslexic? These Fears and More Filled Me with Dread of Computers!

Computers are a marvel! No one knew that better than I did, in spite of my being totally computer illiterate! For years I would write out my stories longhand and take them to devoted friends to format and put on disks for me to submit to my editor. They were so expert with computers, I would watch in awe as their fingers flew over the keyboards. Because of my dyslexia, I only wished I could use computers, or so I thought. The last eight months of computer classes have radically changed my mind!

I purchased an old 386 IBM Compatible with Windows 3.1 from a friend. All I knew how to do was turn it off and on and surf the World Wide Web which helped me get over my first of many phobias. Next I took to e-mail like the proverbial duck takes to water. Each time I saw my program manager with games and interesting icons, I longed to know more about this marvel.

The eight-year-old neighbor boy showed me all the fascinating things he could do on his computer! He was in Paintbrush drawing cartoon-type pictures in exciting colors! At home I checked to find my computer had it too. So away went another fear and it was true love at first try. WHEE!!! I was making beautiful pictures and designs. One little problem- I couldn't put them on disks or save them! Oh, well, I didn't let that stop me from having all this FUN! Next I found the games and spent hours playing six versions of solitaire till my husband started to complain of loneliness.

Computer Date
At a party with many good friends, Diane Patton brought her computer portfolio from classes she had been taking from the local Regional Occupational Program (ROP) through the county school district. She was extremely proud of her upgraded skills and her new employability. Diane had been laid off because of downsizing as the unstable economy hit the building industry very hard. She had been secretary/receptionist for many years and now was looking for work. Her husband encouraged her to take classes to up- grade her skills and give her an edge in the job scene. It was a great idea as she entered ROP and found support, updates on employment demands, good classes, understanding teachers to coach her and a career lab full of computers and research in the job markets. She found the mixed ages and mixed cultures of the students stimulating and when asked if she felt her age was a disadvantage, she said"No!" "In fact I think the mature woman has many advantages such as stability, work and life experiences that are valuable and create a peaceful work environment", replied Diane. To her amazement, upon showing her portfolio, she was hired that evening by the president of a successful construction industry company who was impressed by her cutting-edge skills. She now enjoys the best job she ever had with a vibrant company whose respectful and talented officers appreciate all her mature and reliable skills and attitudes.

As I browsed her portfolio, my eyes grew wide. There she had exquisite and pristine Word program documents, Excel spreadsheets and assorted charts and graphs, and Desktop Publishing, CorelDraw, Paint-brush and other creative artworks. Here were all the icons my computer had that I didn't know how to use. Oh, if only I could do this . . . Diane insisted that I could do all this and more if I would only give myself permission . . . SO I DID! I called ROP in my neighborhood and was enrolled the first of November 1997. From day one I amazed myself and astounded my family and friends with my newfound versatility and creativity.

ALL THE THINGS I FEARED VANISHED under the gentle and simplified teaching methods. The teachers were patient with us and took us baby-step by baby-step at first until we became familiar and secure. We began to accelerate as a class building one success upon the last. The old saying is true . . ."Nothing Succeeds Like Success!" We expanded our output and created wonderful results that we could print to show off to anyone who wanted to encourage us.

During the last eight months, I learned basic computer skills in Windows 3.1, and 95-MS Office 97: Word, Program Manager, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, and Paintbrush. Next, I learned basic skills of the Internet, including HTML, Web Site Design with Multi-Media capabilities, and Desktop Publishing, CorelDraw and Page-Maker. There seems to be no end in sight for me as I plan to take Advanced Desktop Publishing, Photo-shop, Computer Animation and Network and Computer Tech Classes.

THE COMPUTER HAS CHANGED MY LIFE! I have had great self-esteem for many years due to personal growth and studying with masters like Jack Canfield, Nathaniel Brandon, Deepak Chopra, Mark Victor Hansen, Dr. Peggy Bassett, Wayne Dyer, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Rama Vernon, Dr. Sioux Harlan, Father Leo Booth, Joan Deniken and Vernon Woolf, etc. NOW, it all has expanded into a new and exciting multi-media, multi-dimensional opportunity to express my Self esteemingly in amazingly creative ways and share with the whole world. Watch for me in cyberspace dancing on the Web!

I believe that self-expression is our mission in life. We learn, experience, integrate- then we express our uniqueness for others to see and admire! Try it! My networth has already increased as people are asking me to design web sites for them and are paying me for something I love to do. I have helped my advertising clients write copy for Awareness Magazine using my new skills, then I collaborate with them to create public relations and marketing strategies. I have a new respect for myself and my talents because computers showed me how to express all my dreams and visions in a way others can see and enjoy.

A self-esteeming experience awaits you! You have an important invitation to develop and expand your career/business employment skills through ROP. For many of us only now discovering this program, it seems like the best kept secrete in California. The truth is ROP wants everyone to know about these tuition-free classes which prepare students for more then 70 careers including: computers, business/ finance, medical/health, drafting/graphics, automotive, animal/plant, service, transportation, maintenance, child related, manufacturing, and public safety. There are 72 ROC/Ps offices in California and hundreds of thousands of residents have received career preparation. This program is open to high school students 16 years or older, out-of-school youth, and adults, and is dedicated to preparing its students for entry-level to mid-level employment, career changes or advancement, and future education.

ROP's commitment to the community is to contribute to the economic development by creating a well-trained workforce. Instructors have direct industry experience in the field they teach and are credentialed by the State Department of Education. Curriculum reflects the current employment needs of the local and regional job market. This is a first-class support system and offers more than time and space permits.

Do yourself a favor and check it out. If you don't need it for yourself, you know someone who does.

For much more information call Keri Gee Barnett, Community Relations Manager at (714) 541-5537, or write to 2333 No. Broadway, Suite 260, Santa Ana, CA 92706

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