Veterans Help Fuel Surge in Vocational School Enrollment

Six years ago, Apollo Alva was in the Marines. But a medical discharge forced him to change careers.

Today, Alva teaches sports and exercise psychology at Santa Barbara Business College. And he’s about to open his own business.

"You might hear about Alva’s Fitness out there ruining some boot camps," he said. "That would be me."

Local vocational schools are seeing a dramatic increase in student enrollment. Merrisa Alaniz of SBBC said student enrollment is up by 30 percent this year.

At San Joaquin Valley College, enrollment has increased by 65 percent, said Nick Gomez.

The surge in enrollment appears to be fed by the still sour economy, as people return to the classroom in hopes of learning a trade or sharpening their skills and gaining the edge in an already tight job market.

Thomas Farris left the Navy in 2008, but jobs were scarce.

"It was pretty hard. I came back last year and it took three to four months to find a job," said Farris.

Farris is now studying at SBBC. He hopes to be a physical therapist.

"Might sound kind of silly, but I do want to be a personal trainer for the San Francisco 49ers," said Farris.

BAKERSFIELD NOW

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