R&DE’s Stepping Stones To Success recognizes 63 employees, expands to six campus departments

R&DE’s Stepping Stones To Success recognizes 63 employees, expands to six campus departments

R&DE’s Stepping Stones To Success recognizes 63 employees and their families
Congratulations to the 2019 Stepping Stones to Success graduates and their families

Before Stanford’s 128th Commencement, another group of dedicated graduates were celebrated at a recent Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE) Stepping Stones to Success (SSTS) achievement ceremony.  Sixty-three Stanford employees from six campus departments were presented with certificates for completing SSTS courses during the 2018-19 academic year.

Among the recipients were Zoila Sandoval, Mayte Farias, Marta Monterrosa, and Zulma Arrendondo.  The Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital housekeeping assistants are pre-GED students. They juggled two computer classes this year with their 40-hour work week while caring for a combined 14 children. “It wasn’t easy, but we loved it,” said Sandoval. “We’re learning a lot.”

Was there a new skill they’d been especially excited to master? “PowerPoint!” the four women exclaimed in unison.

SSTS changes lives

SSTS has steadily grown since it began in 2002, with 10 participants, no classroom and one instructor who went door to door. Over 641 university employees have experienced the power of SSTS to date. This years’ participants included employees from not only R&DE but also DAPER (Athletics Facilities and the Equestrian Center); Stanford Health Care (SHC); Land, Buildings & Real Estate (LBRE); School of Medicine (Veterinary Center); and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital/Stanford Children’s Health. It’s not unusual for students to receive multiple certifications at the ceremony; a third of this years’ students took two or more courses.

Launched by Dr. Shirley Everett, Ed.D., MBA, senior associate vice president for R&DE, SSTS offers courses in general education, language, computer skills, GED and citizen prep, work-related vocational education and health and personal enrichment opportunities.

 “I can’t say enough great things about SSTS,” said Cassandra Loh, a SHC senior quality & compliance manager. “This program changes lives. It empowers our employees to say, ‘I can do more, and the university is here to support me.’”

It’s never too late

This year, brothers Jesus, 59, and Rafael Rodriquez, 65, who have worked at the Stanford Equestrian Center since their teens, learned how to read and write in their native Spanish for the first time, as well as in English. Pencil in hand, Jesus sat in the Equestrian Center’s Red Barn next to a glass display case overflowing with colorful rosette award ribbons as he took Spanish Heritage Literacy.

SSTS has opened a whole new world beyond skills at work, he said. He can now complete everyday tasks such as getting his license from the DMV. It has also helped him get closer to his dream of becoming a U.S. citizen. “This [program] is something that everyone needs,” he said. “I tell myself it is never too late to learn, and I don’t want to die without learning to read and write in my own language.”

Managers benefit, too

Participants aren’t the only winners. Ryan Delaney, R&DE graduate housing building manager, recommended SSTS to two custodians on his team. Delaney gave them an extra 30 minutes once a week so they could attend English and computer classes. His support paid off. On the job communication flows much easier now and text messages are much clearer, he said. “They can access the computer in the break room to log onto Axess, check their PTO hours, look at their emails and surf the net. They would ride to class together in the golf cart and it was inspiring to see a comradery develop between them.”

Students, managers and supervisors alike credit much of the program’s success to its caring director, Christine Gabali and instructors, Frank Larteri III, Gabriel Akin-Deko and Molly Aufdermauer who meet students at their individual levels. “I am so amazed by how patient and respectful they are,” said Loh. 

Hear from the students and instructors in these SSTS videos.

R&DE plans for continued growth in SSTS, reaching new departments and new students to share the benefits across campus and in Stanford Redwood City. “Our motto is ‘Offering opportunity and transforming lives,’” said Gabali. “Sometimes it’s the little things that can become big.”

If you are interested or would like to recommend SSTS to an employee, the program is open to all Stanford employees (including members of bargaining units), postdocs, visiting scholars and their spouses. All classes are STAP (Staff Training Assistance Program) funds eligible.  If you would like to take more than one class per year, contact Dr. Christine Gabali at cgabali1@stanford.edu

Stanford Red Barn Equestrian Center horse groomers

Stanford Red Barn Equestrian Center horse groomers Rafael Rodriguez, left, and Teodosio Lujano-Miranda took a Spanish Heritage Literacy with SSTS instructor Molly Aufdermauer. At 65 years old, Rafael is learning to read and write in his native language for the first time.

rogram Director Christine Gabali, shown here with students and instructor Gabriel Akin-Deko

“Stepping Stones to Success aims to transform lives,” says Program Director Christine Gabali, shown here with students and instructor Gabriel Akin-Deko.

LPCH housekeeping assistants from left, Zulma Arrendondo, Marta Monterrosa, Zoila Sandoval and Mayte Farias celebrate their SSTS success with supervisor Carol Capozza and instructor Gabriel Akin-Deko.