AURORA - As Vice President Joe Biden meets with state and local leaders in Denver to talk about Colorado's community colleges, Vanessa Hernandez is studying at the Center for Workforce Development in Aurora.
"I guess, giving me an opportunity to better myself," Hernandez said.
She is a student at the Community College of Aurora taking part in a program that she hopes will land her in a healthcare job at the Anschutz Medical Campus.
"My girls were saying you're going back to school. I'm like, yeah, you know, I want something. Now it's time for me to work on myself," Hernandez said.
She is one of a growing number of students taking advantage of the evolving roles of community colleges in Colorado.
"It really is exciting time for community colleges," Dr. Elena Sandoval-Lucero, vice president of student affairs at C.C.A, said.
She says community colleges are now offering more job skills training programs and more seamless programs for people seeking a bachelor's degree at a four-year school.
"We're open access. We're designed to meet students where they are and take then where they need to be," Sandoval-Lucero said. "Whether they want transfer preparation, workforce preparation, or skills development, we're designed to provide programs that meet their specific needs."
Valerie Ganztler is an instructor for a GED program at the Community College of Aurora. She says the school is being relied upon more than ever.
"It's a completely different animal now," Gantzler said. "I think community colleges are now seen as that transition piece before you go on to a four-year college or get yourself a career."
Hernandez hopes this is a path to better future after working jobs as a custodian and cashier.
"Cause it feels like it's always okay, I guess I'm just working for food or I'm just working for food," Hernandez said. "I want it to be something fun where I love going to and from work."
(© 2015 KUSA)