The Power of Career Education: Saddleback Graduate Taryn Vanderberg Student Spotlight

August 31, 2023
Saddleback Graduate Taryn Vanderberg

Sometimes the impact of a community college career education program is so profound, it’s best described by the person it impacts.

Take, for example, Taryn Vanderberg. Equipped with the skills and knowledge gained while earning certificates in Human Resources Management and Business Leadership, along with an associate degree in Business Leadership, she found her first job out of college – as a human resources manager for a homecare company – from a posting on Saddleback College’s Career Services website. For the past several years, she’s done HR and Operations consulting and is currently a human resources director at Age Well Senior Services, overseeing human resource initiatives and compliance at 10 sites throughout South Orange County.

“I knew Saddleback had a great reputation in the area as a community college,” said Vanderberg. “I wasn’t sure at that point if I would transfer or not when I started my educational journey. I wasn’t really a school person at all. I was just aiming to get a certificate and be ‘one and done.’ But I enjoyed my time there. I ended up earning two certificates and an associate degree at Saddleback. I progressed to a bachelor’s program, then a master’s, and I’m actually currently working on a doctorate. And it all started with my time at Saddleback College.”

In many ways, Vanderberg is a prime example of how powerful a career education can be.

“I’ve been very blessed,” Vanderberg continued. “I’ve gotten to where I wanted to be professionally.”

The Human Resources Management Job Skills Certificate includes courses in Business Management, Human Relations in Business, and Human Resources Management and can lead to careers with average salaries of $96,000 annually in a field where career opportunities are projected to grow 9.5% this decade.

Similarly, the Business Leadership Certificate and Associate of Science Degree programs are aimed at developing and enhancing leadership skills while giving the student a firm foundation in economics, sociocultural and technological trends, ethical decision making, and motivating others. Courses include Legal Environment and Business Law, Business Communication, Intercultural Communication, Human Relations in Business, and Workplace Success Skills.

“I learned a lot about how to excel in a professional space,” Vanderberg said about her Saddleback College programs. She also proved to herself that she was more than just a “super-average student,” to use her words.

“I was never a school person,” she explained. “It wasn’t something that came naturally to me.”

Vanderberg had been operating a small marketing and promotions business when she opted to enroll at Saddleback after turning 21.

“I was looking for a little direction and wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do long term,” said Vanderberg. “I was thinking I was going to get a certificate and be done in a year and that would be it for my education”.

But once she started classes at Saddleback, that all changed. “I gained exposure to a lot of different experiences and different ideas that I wouldn’t have encountered otherwise,” she said. With the support of professors who cared, she graduated from Saddleback College in 2014 with a 3.9 grade point average.

“I said, ‘Hey, I can do this,’ and transferred to Vanguard University for a bachelor’s degree in business management before moving on to Westcliff University in Irvine for an executive MBA in Healthcare Management. Today, she’s studying for a doctorate in business administration, with a concentration in strategic leadership.

Despite this extensive educational experience, Vanderberg is quick to note that the quality of education she received at Saddleback was as good as any she’s experienced since, including welcoming atmosphere, campus culture, abundant networking opportunities, student activities and organizations, and, most of all, the professors.

“The professors take time to talk to you and find out what you want to do after completing your program. They care and they are so kind.”

Vanderberg now has her sights set on teaching at the college level. Teaching at Saddleback College would be icing on the proverbial cake.

“This is kind of cheesy, but I feel like Saddleback gave me a safe space to learn and grow as an individual. I was able to find my own strengths and talents and kind of come away with a sense of purpose and direction for my life that I didn’t really have going in.”