July 23, 2010
Until 18 months ago, Maria Ortiz says she never had to search for a job in her life. As a highly skilled bilingual Ph.D. and the first ever Mexican-American woman to be admitted into Brigham Young University’s graduate school of management, Ortiz was always the kind of woman universities would beg to come work for them.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
After working and teaching in California for 20 years, Ortiz was recruited in 2007 for a highly specialized job at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She left her stable situation to take a chance on a new program she believed in, but the program folded due to budget cuts less than two years later in January 2009, right in the middle of the recession.
Ortiz frantically applied for jobs for the next 18 months, running through all $15,000 of her savings, exhausting all 99 weeks of unemployment benefits and eventually having to draw from Social Security and accept financial aid from her local church congregation to help pay the rent. Monday morning, on her 63rd birthday, Ortiz says she received yet another job rejection phone call, and she felt like she could no longer hold it together.