After a two-month internship with the San Diego Water Department, Monica Campanella knew she had found her passion.
“That sealed the deal,” Campanella said of her work at the Otay water treatment plant. “That was my calling. That was what I wanted to do.”
Campanella, a single mother of a 19-year-old son and twin 17-year-old girls, hopes to get a job with a water agency after finishing a program in water and wastewater technology at Cuyamaca College. Now on welfare and living with her mother in La Mesa, she’s eager to return to the workforce.
In addition to her internship with the city of San Diego, Campanella also was one of 20 San Diego County students who worked in a year-long internship with the San Diego County Water Authority. Last year, the East County Economic Development Council selected her as the Cuyamaca College Career Technical Education Student of the Year.
Campanella returned to San Diego County from Nevada in 2007 after she and her husband divorced. She had been working in mortgage banking, but she wanted to work in a field with better job opportunities and that was closer to her interests. She found that in the program at Cuyamaca.
Campanella said she’s most impressed that many of her instructors at Cuyamaca are professionals from water agencies around the county.
“They’re awesome,” she said. “Their field experience is amazing and that’s what makes the program work.”
She said many of her fellow students are military veterans or others trying to learn a new field so they can enter the workforce, and she appreciates the importance of career training programs.
“We should be coming up with more programs to get the skills so we can get jobs,” she said.