Sonoma County Office of Education

SCOE Employee Center

Employee Spotlight: Yovani Diaz

11/02/2017 - Yovani Diaz

Yovani Diaz currently works with SCOE’s custodial staff through the Transition Program, which is designed to “teach work skills” to special education students, age 18-22, and to support their growth into adulthood.

Yovani Diaz

Years at SCOE:
Started in 2014

Job Title:
SCOE Transition Program Student

Where did you grow up?
I came from Mexico to join my parents in Santa Rosa when I was five, with my two brothers. At first, me, my mom and dad and two brothers were staying in a tiny room. We all shared a bunk bed. My mom and dad slept on the bottom and me and my two brothers slept on top. Later on, we moved into a bigger apartment.

Can you tell us about your family?
I got married last year in May to my wife, Simone. We have a two year old daughter, Angelica.

What's your favorite place in Sonoma County?
Near Cazadero there is a camp that is run through a baptist church. It’s really nice out there. My wife and I like to just go there to get away.

What's your favorite thing about SCOE?
The staff. They’re really nice; they’re really helpful. They won’t leave you until they’re confident that “you’ve got this.”

Who was your favorite teacher?
Nance Burton at SCOE, because I like that she pushes me. She wants us to know how to be out there in life and actually have a job. That’s one of the reasons I consider her one of the best special education teachers. She tells me, “We will be here with you until you get your job.” She even said they (she and the SCOE Job Coaches) would be there at 4 in the morning if needed to help me learn a new job at Oliver’s.

What is your favorite hobby/ way to unwind?
I like bike riding, swimming, and going to the park with my wife and kid.

You are a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient. How has DACA impacted you?
In 2015, I first signed up for DACA and started working. To me, DACA means I’m one of the them (part of the community). At first I was here at SCOE, helping the custodians while I waited for my paperwork to go through. I enjoy working with them. Then I got my paperwork and got moved to the class at Oliver’s Market. In January of this year, I got promoted to Cost Plus World Market where I mostly worked independently as a gourmet food stocker. I really like working at Cost Plus. I enjoyed every detail of that job. I had to stop working there in September because my DACA expired. It was stressful and I was struggling at the same time because I didn’t have a paid job, instead I was volunteering at SCOE with the custodians until my DACA was renewed and we were unsure how long that would take. We were told up to 5 months, which could’ve caused a lot of problems for me in my final semester in the SCOE program. Fortunately, I now have my DACA renewed (thanks to help from Catholic Charities) and I am being paid again to work with the custodians at SCOE. I am also now able to look for a final placement job and have four potential job opportunities at present. It’s really hard to choose.

How did you feel about the announcement that DACA might not be renewed?
To me, I got a little paranoid. I was afraid of it because of all the people it would affect. It was terrifying. To me it seems like I could wake up every morning, go to work, apply for different careers, more opportunities but then I realize I only have it for two years. It’s not going to be for a lifetime where I can enjoy it. My wife is afraid I’m going to get deported. I tell her, “I don’t want to go 1,000 miles away and leave her and our kid behind.” I’d be heartbroken for our family. But I wasn’t in a situation where I was going to let it bring me down. I am a dreamer. I”m happy with DACA.