When Jose Nava started his studies at the College of Western Idaho (CWI), he had no idea an accounting class assignment would lead him to an office with a view along the interstate in Nampa. Today he is doing a job he enjoys in a profession he loves. It’s a far cry from where he once was, and he has CWI to thank.
“I look out the window and see the clouds or rain and I tell myself, ‘Man… thank goodness I’m at a desk job because I don’t have to be out there anymore,’” he says with a big smile.
Jose’s road to college did not start out paved at all. In fact, it wasn’t even a thought. He started working in the fields when he was 15. He continued down the manual labor path—doing jobs he says were pretty rough. But it wasn’t the hard work that encouraged him to make a change and go to school. It was actually a broken water heater; one he decided to fix himself.
“Here I am in December—struggling to get it out of the house,” he said. “It was tough. What I didn’t know is that it still had eight gallons of water in it—and that water went everywhere. I said to my wife, ‘Why can’t we afford to have a professional do this?’ And that was it. I was tired of living paycheck-to-paycheck and wanted out of that slump.”
Twenty years after graduating from Nampa High School in 1991, Jose chose accounting—a stable profession—and found himself back in class. Jose noticed a lot had changed over the past few decades, and he spent a lot of time online figuring out current classroom verbiage.
“I was doing my homework one day and my nine year old came over and said, ‘Oh my gosh, dad… I did that last year,’” he said. “Then I said, ‘Well why don’t you come and help me then?’”
Jose dedicated the next two years to his studies while his wife worked. When she lost her job during his final semester, he considered quitting and returning to manual labor. She and one of his accounting instructors convinced him to finish.
Then, he received a life-changing assignment. It was a new program where students were to go out in the community, find an accounting professional and shadow them for a day. Not knowing where to go, he started with the AIM Companies where his mom works. This assignment then turned into an opportunity when the accountant he shadowed invited him back to intern with the organization. That internship eventually turned into a full-time job.
Today—three years later—Jose does the company’s sales tax, accounts payable, and payroll. He also does some human resources work.
“I didn’t expect to be (here) and I am grateful,” he said. “It’s all because of the college. I finished because of the encouragement of my professor and support of my wife telling me we have to do this and that’s why I’m here today.”