FAIRFIELD — Soraya Olayiwola brought a blue blanket and a white folding chair when she arrived Sunday at 9:47 a.m. – first in line for the central service technician class at the Fairfield-Suisun Adult School.
By Tuesday evening, about 40 others were waiting off Travis Boulevard near the flagpole in front of the school for the $800 class – which teaches sterile processing technology and infection control. It begins registration Wednesday morning, when 33 students will be able to enroll.
“I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do,” said Olayiwola, 19, of Fairfield.
Last August, she arrived at 4 a.m. the day before registration to later learn enrollment was full for the five-month course that covers topics including microbiology, decontamination and sterilization of medical instruments.
Kay Hartley, principal of the adult school that’s part of the Fairfield-Suisun School District, said jobs cleaning and preparing medical instruments that follow completion of the course and certification pay $23 to $28 an hour. The line starting Sunday to enroll in the winter class reflects student interest in the work and word of mouth about the adult school instruction, she said.
“I’ve never seen this happen,” Hartley said of students lining up so early.
The adult school, for the safety of people waiting to enroll, let Fairfield police know in August about the line and patrol cars drove through the parking lot a couple of times, Hartley recalled. School officials debated the best way to handle enrollment and decided first-come-first served is fairer than a random selection of on-line applicants, she said.
“In a lottery,” Hartley said, “it’s all luck.”
Benicia resident Ahmad Muse, 33, was at the end of the line of 15 people Monday afternoon but still among the lucky before the class reaches capacity.
“It’s a good career,” he said. “I jumped on it.”
Sharon Barum, the course instructor, has visited students waiting to enroll and is impressed by their dedication.
“That shows me a lot,” she said. “This is something they want.”
While 33 students can register, a reading assessment will reduce the number of people in the classroom to 28. Adult school secretary Paula Riley described the course as demanding.
“It’s serious,” she said of the instruction and the work that follows. Strict attendance rules are part of the adult school course.
Barum said 24 of the 28 students who registered last August for the course that ends Jan. 14 remain in the class.
Private schools offer the instruction in preparation and decontamination of medical instruments, but reduce the five-month course to five weeks, offer no hands-on training and charge from $2,400 to $3,500, Barum said.
Anad Gatson, 45, of Suisun City, was second in line. She said she was a teen in San Francisco waiting for Prince tickets that last time she was in a line like the one forming in Fairfield. She said 50 people in the line by Monday night wouldn’t surprise her.
Health care, Gatson added, holds the promise of the stable career that working for cities, counties and the state once suggested.
“Before, we looked at government jobs for stability,” Gatson said. Layoffs and furloughs ended that, she added.
Brandy Brown-Mooring, 37, of Fairfield works at the Chez Soul Southern Cuisine restaurant in Fairfield and was in the mortgage industry before the real estate crash last decade. She was in line for the medical technician class in August when the doors opened at 8 a.m. and soon learned the class was full as others left the adult school.
“As we were moving forward,” Brown-Mooring recalled, “people were returning to their cars.”
She took a medical terminology class at the adult school and waited for the next enrollment opportunity in the central service technician course.
“I didn’t give up,” she said.
Conversation, games and laughs would help pass the time until registration Wednesday morning, said Brown-Mooring, who doesn’t mind the wait.
“We know we made it,” she said of herself and others getting in the class.
Vacaville resident Danielle Pense, 25, walked to the line’s end Monday afternoon to take her place as the 16th person. She works as a custodian at the NorthBay Medical Center in Vacaville where she had to go to work Monday night. Pense wants a career in the medical field as a surgical tech and said the course central service technician course makes sense.
“This is my first step,” she said.
The adult school also offers a surgical technician course – year-long instruction that costs $10,000 plus books. Average salary for a technician is $41,487 to $70,158, according to the Fairfield-Suisun Adult School.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.