Extension student transitions from diamonds to chips

Not long ago, Nicole Loutsenhizer was a certified diamond grader, peering into the world’s most valuable gems.

Student Profile: Nicole Loutsenhizer, Certificate in Paralegal

Then, the bottom dropped out of the precious stones market and she was out of a job, one she was uniquely qualified for.

“It was a really good job until nobody bought diamonds,” she recalled. “I was six years out of college with zero experience doing anything else, so I was sure nobody would hire me.”

Now, three years later, she’s a computer analyst for Qualcomm and grateful for her UC San Diego Extension certificate that helped her move from diamonds to chips.

During the economic slump, she noticed that paralegals had weathered the storm. She promptly enrolled in the “highest-rated program I could find” — UC San Diego Extension’s Professional Paralegal Certificate program.

Said Loutsenhizer, a San Diego native who grew up in San Marcos: “I did my research, so I knew it was the right decision.”

Certificate in hand and determined to enter the paralegal field, she applied to more than 100 companies. Based on that project, she was hired by Qualcomm as a legal contract analyst. Soon, she was promoted to her current role as a computer analyst.

“It wasn’t a walk in the park,” she said, “but getting my paralegal certificate really prepared me for what I’m doing now.”

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