Work beyond the office

Tess Guan, Web Editor

One time school bus driver, Patricia Dimas, a new member of the Brahma family, found a different role in the WorkAbility I program office, where she now steers students toward their future career paths.

As WorkAbility consultant, her job is specifically geared toward working with kids in the special education department. Dimas speaks with business managers in the community, looking to form partnerships with companies interested in hiring students locally. She replaced longtime WorkAbility consultant of Velma Zozaya, who retired.

“They see it in my eyes and in my tone how I talk about our students and our school,  and how proud I am of them,” Dimas said.

Businesses such as Chick-fil-a and McDonald’s partner with Diamond Bar High School and the Walnut Valley School District to secure positions for special education students. Once working hours accumulate, the district then provides students with their incomes, similar to a typical working situation.

“It’s important to network with people inside Diamond Bar High School and outside in the community,” she said. “When we network together, we build stronger partnerships, we can cross networks and provide more opportunities to our students.”

Besides helping students find jobs, Dimas also provides resources for students to go on career field trips. Specifically designed to educate the students, field trips to colleges and workplaces give students a first hand experience of life outside high school.

“I tell my students that the best gift I can give them is the gift of awareness,” Dimas said. “The only way I can do that is to take them out to field trips and show them the different programs that are available to them after they graduate from high school.

This year will be Dimas’ fifth year working in the WorkAbility field and her sixth year working in the special ed department. When she was 22, she decided to pursue a career in education, first driving school buses, then working at after-school and food service programs.

“We are all a piece of the puzzle, part of being a piece of the puzzle means you do what  you can for the big picture, which is our students,” she said.  

Although satisfied with her work in the food service department, she knew her speciality lied with interacting with students. When a role for the special ed program opened up, she decided to test for the role.

“When the opportunity first opened up, I fell in love with it,” she said. “It was like it was written for me, I knew it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”