Student’s life-changing event

A life-changing event for 27-year-old Margarita Arriaga occurred in September. She was feeling ill and, after reporting to work, left to go to the hospital. She thought she had the flu.

A few days later she got devastating news. A bone marrow biopsy showed she had acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow that affects white blood cells.

“It has impacted my life in so many ways. I was the person bringing in the income for my household. Not being able to provide for my kids, my mom and my brother has changed a lot,” she said. She is divorced with two young sons. Her brother is handicapped.

Arriaga was a student at Richland. The courses she took helped her get a good job.

“I was looking for a job. I came across this flyer that had information regards to continuing education. To me that was really interesting. I enrolled in Richland to do my administrative offices program,” she said.

The four-month course helped her learn basic accounting and office skills. Toward the end of the program, which was financed by various companies, Arriaga interviewed for a position with Associa.

“That was my first interview that I had ever had,” she said.

Arriaga took a full-time position with the company in March 2016. She praised the training she received at Richland.

“[It] was very helpful. I learned how to use big office printers, handling calls, transferring calls and just a lot of skills that I used in the accounting department,” she said.

The Associa newsletter from June 2016 featured a story about Arriaga. It mentioned that she learned Quickbooks and acquired an Internet & Core Computing Certification (IC3). She mastered the Cisco phone system and trains new people.

Fellow employees at Associa have pitched in to help Arriaga with finances as she battles her illness. They have launched a fundraiser and donated vacation hours. That has taken some of the financial burden off Arriaga’s shoulders. She is half way through six rounds of chemotherapy. After that, she will require a bone marrow transplant.

Anyone interested in contributing to the cost of her treatment can visit the gofundme page set up at: