From Staff to Student : Emily Griffith Technical College

From Staff to Student

From Staff to Student

Working full time with refugees and spending eight to 10 hours a week earning a Web Development certificate? It’s just what you do if you’re College Recruiter Katie Broz and want to really understand the Emily Griffith experience in order to “sell” it.

“As a recruiter, I talk about our programs often, and this program is new and very appealing to refugees and immigrants,” she said. “There is a lot of job growth in coding, and it’s like learning a new language, and since they’re learning English, this is a muscle they can flex.” 

Katie came to Emily Griffith in 2019 after working with high-school students running leadership and career-readiness programs. Working most recently for Operation HOPE, a non-profit dedicated to empowering people through financial literacy, Katie taught money management classes all over the metro area including to refugees resettling in Colorado with the help of Aurora’s African Community Center. 

Because new arrivals lack experience with American financial customs and laws, Katie explained, they are easily preyed upon by predatory lenders. She loved teaching her Banking 101 class at the ACC. “I really liked that population,” she said. “I had worked with high schoolers, and they aren’t as nice as adult refugees.”

Emily Griffith Mega Fan

Aware of Emily Griffith’s mission and legacy helping immigrants, Katie jumped at the chance to apply when a position opened to work with immigrants and refugees at Emily Griffith. Since then, she’s become an even an even bigger fan of the school and its founder as she’s worked with immigrant and refugee students on creating pathways to sustainable futures.

“I love the story of the woman who started the school and love working for a place with such a long-standing mission, maintaining the same goal of welcoming all who wish to learn,” she said. “To help them reach their career goals and match them with the skills they need to get real jobs that promise real opportunity based on labor market data, which is where they will be when they leave our school…the fact that we’ve been doing that for 100 years, that legacy is important to me.”

Turning the COVID Crisis into an Opportunity

With the pandemic opening time in her schedule, Katie thought it might strengthen her skills as a recruiter to experience a class as a student and not just a visitor, so she decided to use the tuition credits she receives as an Emily employee and sign up to complete the Web Development certificate. Completely different than her college majors of psychology and social welfare, she’s found the Web Development classes to be challenging and gained new respect for the students she works with.

“It’s hard, I’m not going to lie,” she said. “This is a new world I’m diving into. I’ve had to practice a lot of patience with myself for not picking this up as quickly as I have things in the past.” 

On the plus side, she feels a sense of unity with her student peers, and she’s hoping to create an app or web page to aggregate resources and services for immigrant and refugee students in one place. She also knows what it takes to complete her homework and manage a full-time job—insights she can share with prospective students. And, if all goes as planned, she’ll finish her program in November or December.

“Having the experience of being a student at Emily Griffith has been very useful,” she said. “I can give students advice about industry standards for web development, plus it’s a great skill even if you’re not sure you want to make it a career. You can take these technical skills and implement them in your current job or build your own website instead of hiring someone else.”