“I used to be indecisive. Now I’m not so sure,” reads the embroidery in the small wooden frame that sits on top of the bookshelf.
But it is that same indeciveness which led Paula Verdugo, the new director of Career Services, to the University of La Verne.
Verdugo has been a part of the ULV community for some years, but it wasn’t until this past August that she accepted the position of director of Career Services after the previous director left the University.
“I’m not new to La Verne; I’m not new to this office, I’m just new to this position,” Verdugo said. “It’s been kind of hectic, but absolutely fabulous.”
She did her internship in career services, and then served as temporary assistant to the director from 2002 to 2005.
Finding her calling was not easy for Verdugo who held many jobs before finding what truly fulfilled her.
“I’ve pretty much done every job except truck driving and waitressing,” Verdugo said.
Ready to begin a new chapter in her life and in her 40s Verdugo returned to school and in 1998 received her bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Phoenix.
She attended Citrus College for a year, and in 2002 she received her master’s degree in counseling from ULV.
“I always wondered what it was like [to go to school],” Verdugo said “I didn’t know the difference between undergrad and grad.”
Verdugo said leaving ULV with a master’s degree in her hand was one of the happiest days of her life.
Now Verdugo works hard to make sure students at ULV find a career they truly love and that they have all the resources they need to be successful.
“Part of the thrill is having a student run to you and say, ‘I got the job, I got the job,’ that is what I live for, that is absolutely what I live for,” Verdugo said.
She currently teaches several graduate courses as well as a number of workshops to help undergraduate juniors and seniors make a smooth transition into the workforce.
The workshops focus on what employers are looking for and how to market yourself for certain jobs.
“Part of your mental health is doing a job that you love,” Verdugo said. “And if I can help someone discover that; I’m doing well.”
Students seeking help had access to Career Services throughout the summer although they were not fully staffed. Doing most of the counseling herself Verdugo spent hours working with students one on one.
Career Services will be fully staffed Oct. 16 when the new assistant director will take over most of the counseling and leave Verdugo with most of the organizing.
But Verdugo’s passion is to help, and she will continue to work with students.
“She believes everyone should have an opportunity and everybody is a vital asset,” said Kelly Sims, graduate intern at Career Services. “She’s an advocate for success.”
Students will never be denied help if they walk into her office. Those who are lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with her are in for a treat.
“She loves to laugh, she laughs a lot,” said Adae’ze Jackson, administrative assistant for career services. “She makes the work place a more enjoyable place.”
Verdugo’s enthusiastic nature is inspiring to the students who seek her help as well as those who work with her.
“She probably knows more about anything than anyone I have ever known,” Sims said. “Any interaction or experience I’ve ever had with her has been wonderful.”
Laura Bucio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.