Student Spotlight: The Unstoppable Michael Sarmiento

Welcome back to Student Spotlights, an interview series presented by Disability Support Programs and Services (DSPS) that recognizes the accomplishments of SDCCD students and alumni. Today’s success story belongs to Michael Sarmiento, who achieved his Child Development Associate Teacher Certificate of Performance at San Diego Miramar College in Spring of 2020. 

Sarmiento’s post-collegiate future looked promising, as he was immediately hired at a local preschool. But as the coronavirus pandemic wreaked havoc in schools across the globe, the new job unfortunately stalled before it even began.

“They said that closing the school would delay my start date,” he said, “and they never actually got back to me.”

Despite this setback, Sarmiento wasn’t going to let a false start stop him. With support from the College 2 Career (C2C) program, which assists students with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorder with their education and employment goals, he spent that summer and fall actively applying for jobs and preparing for interviews. In January of 2021, he accepted a position at Mt. Olive Lutheran Preschool in Poway, CA, where he continues to work today.

C2C Coordinator Natacia Cordle was certain that Sarmiento’s hard work and perseverance would pay off.

“Michael’s friendly and kind character, in combination with his commitment to the job process enabled him to achieve his employment goal and be successful in his first paid job as a college graduate,” she said.

Sarmiento doesn’t take all the credit for his accomplishments, noting that many people helped him along the way, including C2C Vocational Specialist Rachel Martinez and other folks within his “inner circle.” 

“My college journey has certainly been a roller coaster; it had its ups and downs,” he said. “I am super thankful for the support that I had gotten over those times that I was at Miramar and in achieving my goal in receiving my certificate.”

Sarmiento also reflected on a piece of advice from a former teacher at Miramar that stayed with him through the years:

“He said, ‘Be patient, and it’ll come to you.’”

Now, Sarmiento has some advice of his own to give students, particularly those living with disabilities. 

“No matter how hard it gets, keep going, keep fighting, and know that you always have your support system in your corner.”

Thank you, Michael, for providing readers with this wonderful lesson in patience and persistence!

If you are a SDCCD student with disabilities looking to build up the support system in your corner, please check out the DSPS website to learn about the college and career resources we provide.

Michael Sarmiento