An employer knows how Castro Valley Adult & Career Education changes people’s lives: She’s also a CVACE graduate

woman working in an office
Julia Siroy, office manager at Hayward Family Care, now hires staff from the program she received her medical training from. Photo by George E. Baker

by Matt Jocks

When Julia Siroy’s 27-year career with Macy’s fell victim to the Great Recession, she had a logical mind that told her one thing: No matter what happens with the economy, there would always be a need for people to provide medical care.

“I didn’t have experience in any other field,” she says. “If I can get laid off after 27 years and have to start over, older than most people who are getting started, what am I going to do? You know what, the medical field.”

So that’s where she headed. And her timing turned out to be perfect: She joined the first Medical Assistant training program at Castro Valley Adult & Career Education.

Siroy says cost was an initial factor in choosing Castro Valley—and she is thankful today to not be burdened by student loan debt—but she found the affordability came with excellent quality. “The instructors I had were really awesome. They were very supportive and they made everything seem easy.”

At the start, Siroy says she needed the support because she entered the program with some apprehension about her ability to thrive as an older student.

“That was challenging,” she says. “I was going to school with these young adults who were around my daughters’ ages.”

There were, however, a couple of students of Siroy’s generation and they bonded quickly (“We called ourselves the threesome”). She maintains personal and working relationships with both more than a decade later.

After getting her certification, Siroy worked for a short stint with a temp agency, gaining experience in a variety of offices with different specialties. That led to her being hired at a private practice and then at Hayward Family Care, where she serves as office manager today. There, she deals with matters like billing and scheduling and serves as liaison between doctors and patients, drug representatives and pharmacies.

She also oversees a crew of five and has supervised many externs who followed her path from Castro Valley.

Seeing the quality of workers that have come from CVACE has reinforced Siroy’s view that its programs continue to offer solid professional training—at a fraction of the cost of private schools in the area.

“I’ve heard from people who paid a lot more money going through other programs,” she says, but CVACE graduates are her most frequent choice to fill extern roles or open positions.

In fact, CVACE has impressive statistics to back up Siroy’s hiring preferences: In 2022-23, 309 students enrolled in CTE classes, and 273 completed their coursework, an 88% completion rate. CTE health care programs now include:

  • Clinical Medical Assistant
  • Administrative Medical Assistant
  • Community Health Worker
  • EKG/ECG Technician
  • Direct Support Professional with ESL Support
  • Medical Terminology with Anatomy & Physiology

And in Siroy’s specific field, Medical Assistant, Castro Valley graduates have a 99% pass rate on the state certification exam (CCBMA) and/or national certification exam (NCCT). CVACE alumni have been hired at UHA Stanford, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter East Bay and Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center, as well as a myriad of private practice and clinic offices.

As for Siroy, after 10 years at Hayward Family Care, the days of working retail—and job insecurity—are long past. “Honestly, I couldn’t have imagined it,” Siroy says of her midlife career change. “But I’m glad it happened. I’m really happy doing what I’m doing.”

To learn more about Castro Valley Adult & Career Education, visit, email or phone (510) 886-1000 .

About Castro Valley Adult & Career Education 5 Articles
Castro Valley Adult & Career Education educates and prepares adults to train for new careers, continue their education, and pursue lifelong learning in a safe, supportive environment. Programs include High School Diploma/GED, English as a Second Language, Career Education, Parent Education and Adults with Disabilities. CVACE also offers a wide variety of Community Interest classes, such as computers, music, cooking and fitness and health.