Article - Office of College Advancement

Labor Day 2007: "Hot Jobs, Cool Customers"

Friday, August 31, 2007—Reprinted from California Employment Development Department (complete article).

Ohlone College Bio-Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Program Graduate: Cynthia Chacon

Cynthia Chacon.

Cynthia Chacon's journey into the new and fascinating world of biotechnology began when Kelly Green came to the FujiColor lab in Hayward last fall. The lab, where Cynthia had worked for 16 years, was soon to close. "I was wondering with all the years I had been working, what kind of job I could get," she says.

Kelly, coordinator of Ohlone College's Biotechnology Program, came to the lab with a Rapid Response team because she saw the Fuji workers as potential candidates for the program. She quickly eased Cynthia's concerns about the future as she described the program, which was developed in partnership with the Alameda County Workforce Investment Board and supported with nearly $1 million in Workforce Investment Act funds by the Employment Development Department.

Cynthia liked what she heard. She had no experience in biotech but she was willing to try something new. "Some of the things Kelly said we would be doing, like chemical testing, were similar to what I did at Fuji as a quality control technician" she says. Cynthia immediately applied and earned not only the top spot among 45 candidates selected for the program and but also the admiration of the staff as "one of the most enthusiastic learners in the program," said Kelly.

"In the program, we learned lab skills," said Cynthia. "We had hands-on classes – using microscopes, learning to separate cell nuclei, growing cells, doing things aseptically so as not to contaminate anything. The great thing was that we not only had classes but we went on tours at companies, and they helped us in working on our résumé and interview skills."

One of those tours took her to Bayer Healthcare. "We met supervisors who actually had job openings," she said. "Less than two weeks after I completed the program I got a job at Bayer as Aseptic Process technician, at $3 an hour more than I was getting at Fuji, plus benefits."

Cynthia speaks enthusiastically about her new job, and not just because of the pay. "Our work is important," she says. "We buffer and formulate the Kogenate, a product that helps with blood clotting. We are always very careful not to contaminate anything. We even wear clothing like spacesuits. Our products go all over the world to help people."

An e-mail to program personnel summed up her feelings: "You and everyone in the program have changed my life!"

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Related Links at Ohlone College

  • Bio-Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Certificate Program [link deleted], a partnership with Alameda County Workforce Investment Board and Ohlone College
  • Biotechnology Workshops, funded by an Economic and Workforce Development grant from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office
  • Biotechnology Department