From computer anxiety to Facebook

Author: Carol C. Bradley

Julia Alvarez, custodian Alvarez

When Julia Alvarez, a custodian in Hessert Aerospace and White Field, had to clean around computers, she was always afraid she would accidentally hit the wrong button and cause a problem. At that time, she didn’t even know how to turn a computer on or off.

But all that changed last year when two fortuitous events occurred: Business Operations, partnering with Human Resources and Graham Allen Partners, began offering on-campus classes in introductory computer skills, and Alvarez was one of the first to enroll. At the same time, her daughter, one of five adult children, bought her a laptop computer for Christmas.

“It was hard for me because I had no experience,” says Alvarez, “but it was the best thing that ever happened to me, because it encouraged me to go back to school.”

As soon as her introductory computer class concluded last winter, Alvarez enrolled in online classes through Ashworth College out of Georgia. She started at the bottom, taking basic courses in math, English and other general subjects. After two years of instruction, she will receive a diploma and be eligible to enroll in a four-year college.

Although Alvarez currently works two jobs, she still finds the time to complete her online assignments.

“It really helps that I own a computer. I only wish I had learned how to use one earlier in life,” she says. “I didn’t realize how much information you can get on the Web.”

It has opened up a new world of information and opportunity for her, she adds. “Now I can keep in contact with other students and teachers via Facebook.”

Alvarez encourages everyone to take advantage of the computer classes offered at Notre Dame. “There is always something you can learn,” she says.

Alvarez hopes her new knowledge and skill will lead to a better position down the road.