Mary Ann Gomillion, 63, never thought she would need to know how to use a computer, nor did she think she could learn. So, she avoided learning even the most basic computer tasks and shunned the machines altogether.
Then she found that she had to be proficient with a computer to secure the kind of job she wanted. That prompted her to sign up for the OASIS Connections Class.
“I used to be in front of the desk, filling out job applications,” Gomillion says. “Now I’m the one behind the desk, taking applications and doing other work on the computer.”
Gomillion credits the Connections Class, and her teacher Jewel Harris, an OASIS instructor, with the fact that she was hired as the office manager for a local pest control company in Dallas, Texas.
“I learned everything from ground zero in the Connections class,” she says. “I learned how to search and apply for jobs on the computer and how to change the format of a document, and then I learned how to navigate around the Internet and do research.”
Harris says that Gomillion’s enthusiasm and thirst for learning aligned with her passion for helping others learn. “Mary Ann and her three classmates and I connected beyond the computer class,” Harris says. “She shared with me recently that because of the OASIS Connections class, her life is evolving professionally in ways she did not even imagine.”
Like many other people over 50 in these challenging economic times, Gomillion found herself in need of employment but lacking the technology skills to search for and secure a job that required the use of computers.
She got involved with the AARP Foundation Senior Employment Program, which eventually led her to the OASIS class. AARP is one of several Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) agencies providing OASIS Connections classes for their participants who need online job search and workplace technology skills. OASIS Connections is the most comprehensive curriculum designed specifically for older learners to help them build success, confidence and practical technology skills.
Harris has been teaching the Connections class for more than a year and she said that her class participants find the curriculum and class books to be very user-friendly. “They tell me they continue to use the book as a reference after the class is over,” she says.
From student to teacher
Gomillion says the curriculum in the class and the approach to teaching was such a good fit that she is now an OASIS Connections Class volunteer instructor herself.
“I really stand behind the OASIS method,” she says. “The way the classes are taught is right in line with how I think older people learn. I use my manual all the time to learn new things and teach other older people that they don’t have to be afraid of the computer.”
Today, when Gomillion isn’t working or teaching a Connections Class, she uses the computer to do research on her family on the Internet. “I’ve come a long way,” she says.