Lay leaders impressed by ORT college in Los Angeles


11 March 2009 Lay leaders impressed by ORT college in Los Angeles Death and taxes are commonly cited as the only certainties in life but finding a job after graduating from the Los Angeles ORT Technical Institute (LAOTI) comes a close second. The outstanding success of LAOTI was apparent during a tour of the Institute’s main Wilshire Boulevard campus by 40 participants in the ORT America Annual Meeting. After two days of discussing ORT’s operations around the world, and seeking ways to enhance support for those operations, it was a chance to see an ORT programme in action on their doorstep. The visitors split into smaller groups and were taken around the five-storey, 40,000 square-foot building, which also houses a Holocaust museum, to meet students and teachers and so see for themselves how ORT is serving the local community. ‘At LAOTI, 93 per cent of graduates get employment,’ said ORT America President Doreen Hermelin. ‘And ORT students feel this all over, seeing our community giving them the opportunity to make a better life. You live better when you learn together and work together. More than ever around the world at this time, to give this gift of tikkun olam from the Jewish People to the rest of the world makes such an important statement.’ The tour made a huge impression on participants, including Roslind Vermut, ORT America Vice President and Chair of ORT Operations USA (pictured watching LAOTI medical assistant students). ‘During the tour I walked into an English as a Second Language (ESL) class and students from different countries turned around and spoke to me,’ Ms Vermut said. ‘I stood there in awe of them. They want to be in our school so they can make a better life for themselves and their families. I get goosebumps just thinking about it. We visited the medical assistant programme and one teacher told me that she has her students learn how to draw blood and give shots by practicing on her. That’s the dedication that is indicative of ORT teachers.’ Judi Lieberman, Chair of the Annual Meeting, added: ‘Visiting LAOTI and meeting our students was so amazing. I’ve been involved in many organisations but there is nothing like ORT. What can be better that to help people to learn and to become valuable members of society ‘ It is an exciting time for LAOTI, its branch campus moving to a larger site in the city’s north to accommodate a 35 per cent increase in demand for its services over the past three years. And the nationally accredited courses available there and at the Wilshire Boulevard campus are constantly evolving and improving to meet changing market needs. New roles are opening up in health services as a result of the ageing population and the increased use of technology in diagnosis and treatment. So LAOTI provides degree courses for pharmacy technicians and medical assistants to meet the demand for highly skilled labour. Being Los Angeles, the centre of the movie industry, LAOTI’s course in computer graphics and desk top publishing is very popular and its two-year courses in Computer Aided Design and Accounting have seen a 100 per cent graduate placement rate. The ORT America group were welcomed by the Institute’s Director, Joseph Neman, who noted the high graduate job placement rate was a matter of pride. ‘It’s an indication that our school is very solid and strong, educationally and operationally,’ Mr Neman said, adding: ‘We are working on several short and long term goals to add more Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees programme to our offerings. These goals include offering AAS degrees in Business Management, Medical Office Administration and Digital Film Production. We also plan to change the name of our school to the Los Angeles ORT College.’ Richard Marpet, the Chair of LAOTI’s Board of Trustees, told the visitors of the appreciation felt for the more than $1 million a year channelled to LAOTI and the other ORT schools in America – in New York and Chicago. ‘This funding has been a key factor in the survival of the schools,’ Mr Marpet said. The Director of ORT Operations USA, Dr Ephraim Buhks, said the success of the schools was being shared internationally. ‘Our on-line course are very popular and we have expanded them to other national ORT programmes in Mexico, Russia and India so that students there can receive an American ORT college diploma or receive a student visa to study here in the USA,’ Dr Buhks said. While many of the 500 students at the Wilshire Boulevard campus are not Jewish, ORT Operations USA is constantly innovating to meet the needs of Jewish communities. ‘We are expanding our partnerships with major Jewish organisations such as Chabad and the Orthodox Union aimed at training low income students and the unemployed,’ Dr Buhks said. ‘And we have strong partnerships with Jewish schools in Miami, Atlanta, Cleveland and Detroit.’ For the members of what is the ORT family’s primary funding organisation the tour was a reminder that ORT’s global reach starts at home. ‘I’ve always loved seeing people who care so much about helping people beyond themselves, to know that you can touch and feel the ORT world whether you’re in Los Angeles, Chicago or New York,’ Mrs Hermelin said. ‘What is universal is how ORT personalises education for students. ORT gives them the gift of an education, a gift for their families and for their communities.’ Ms Vermut added: ‘It was so wonderful to share LAOTI with our members. I believe that when you see a programme and reach out and touch it, you are touching the soul of something you raised money for and worked so hard for. Seeing what we saw is all the thank you that our members need.’