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Colfax resident turns life around with GED after 27 years

Reaching out for help is first step, Bloxham says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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A Colfax resident says the best way to turn your life around is just ask for help and know that you can always achieve your dreams. Robyn Bloxham, 45, grew up in the Bay Area and moved to Colfax 11 years ago after living in Reno for a couple years. Bloxham was set to graduate from high school in 1984 but she was supporting herself and things didn’t work out as planned. “At the time I was working, and I had continued to go to night school in Richmond, and I was going to go ahead and get my GED in Richmond,” Bloxham said. “Things just fell apart to where I was working and didn’t get my GED.” Bloxham said she grew up fast and also had a boyfriend at the time who she put before her schooling. “That had a lot to do with me not graduating as well,” she said. “Since then I have realized you don’t let anybody get in your way of school.” After that Bloxham continued with jobs in the restaurant business and said she did almost everything except manage a restaurant. She also had a number of odd jobs that didn’t work out. Bloxham said she got married when she moved to Reno and then divorced and moved to Colfax. Hit by a big blow In 2009 Bloxham fell down some stairs and her knee swelled up and wasn’t going down. X-rays showed she had a torn meniscus, or cartilage. When she had her surgery on June 23, 2010, the surgeon found her knee joint was bone to bone and she also had osteoarthritis on top of the torn cartilage. The injury was most likely brought about by her years on her feet in restaurants and the more intense surgery meant Bloxham’s recovery time would be longer and she wouldn’t be able to work, she said. “It was really scary when I couldn’t work because how are you going to pay the bills?” Bloxham said. “It was really scary, so it was a wakeup call for me.” The recovery inspired her to look into work options that might give her a more stable future, and because she has no children Bloxham said she knew she would have to take care of herself. “Because when you are lying in bed and you can’t really walk around … you start to think about what it’s going to be like when you get older,” Bloxham said. Making the change Bloxham started attending meetings at the state Department of Rehabilitation office in Auburn. Through the organization she learned about getting her GED through Placer School for Adults and the possibility of entering into the Placer County Office of Education’s 49er ROP, or Regional Occupational Program. Bloxham took GED classes at Placer High School two nights a week and received her GED June 17. “I had to take a second look at it, I was so happy,” she said. The journey wasn’t easy and Bloxham said she had to have extra tutoring in math, which she struggled with. “Really I was nervous and there were a lot of things I had forgotten and thought I wasn’t going to remember, but it was like riding a bicycle, it all started coming back,” she said. After she received her GED, Bloxham was accepted into the veterinary technician 49er ROP program. She is also hoping to become a phlebotomist, or person trained to draw blood from a human or animal, in the future. Although she said she doesn’t know quite what she wants her career with animals to be, she is excited to be studying something she loves instead of working at a job she hates. Bloxham said next month she is starting an internship and hopes it will be at Wild Things, Inc. rescue center in Weimar because then she can have a chance to work with all types of animals. An inspirational case Pamela Buck, the Department of Rehabilitation counselor who worked with Bloxham, said it’s really Bloxham’s personality that makes her stand out. “I think Robyn is really one of the more inspirational cases that I have had and probably the department has had,” Buck said. “It’s due to her enthusiasm, and her level of commitment and her determination to go through the steps that are needed to become competitively employed, which right now is enormously challenging for anyone let alone someone who just needed to get her GED and start fresh.” Joy Slattery, who acted as Bloxham’s GED counselor at the Placer School for Adults, said stories like Bloxham’s are what make her love her job. “It was really exciting to have her come here and want to meet that goal,” Slattery said. “She really has such a good outlook on life. I never heard her sound bitter about the fact that she needed to support herself and dropping out of school was something she had to do.” Penryn resident Rod Cisneros, an independent service provider through the Department of Rehabilitation, tutored Bloxham in math for about three months to prepare her for her GED exam. “I just found her to be a very motivated and enthusiastic person,” Cisneros said. “It’s a goal she has had and wanted to pursue for quite some time now, and I always find it almost inspirational when somebody comes along who doesn’t say, ‘It’s too late, that ship has sailed, I’m too old.’ To just say, ‘I’m going to jump in there, I’m going to give it my best shot, I’m going to succeed,’ – to me that’s how she was looking at it.” Bloxham said that she has advice for people who might be in situations similar to hers and don’t know how to turn their life around. “I would tell them, ‘Never give up on your dreams and you always have to take that first step, and that first step is reaching out for help,’” she said. “It’s better to be happy than be miserable with something you are doing.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ----------------------------------------------------- Are you looking for help in making a change? The Department of Rehabilitation office in Auburn offers job training services and information to individuals who have disabilities that are barriers to employment. For information, call (530) 823-4040. To get more information about Placer School for Adults GED classes call (530) 885-8585