This spring, hundreds of area residents will walk across stages and collect their college degrees. It is a proud, life-altering moment. A moment that perhaps more precious when you’re someone who decided to return to school beyond the typical age, outside the typical reasons, wanting to build and to achieve more than a typical life.
We caught up to three soon-to-be-graduates to gain their perspective of this special time. Each of them utilized the Kentucky Career Center system as a resource in their career path. There they found the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program that serves as a resource for individuals looking to upgrade their skills and find better employment.
Each of these individuals received WIOA funding that helped pay a portion of their tuition and college expenses. Each of them believes that without funding source from the West Kentucky Workforce Board, they would not have been able to achieve their dreams. Each of them is optimistic about their future and about finding a job.
Each of them chose to pursue a degree in healthcare, which is one of the fastest growing sectors in the state. According to the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training 9,200 new health care jobs were created in 2015.
“I decided to go back to school after losing my job,” said Brandie Hendrick, who received WIOA Dislocated Worker assistance when she was laid off. She had been an LPN at an area hospital. “There simply weren’t any full-time LPN positions available. So after 18 years, I felt that God was telling me it was time to get my RN degree. He opened all the doors I needed to do just that.”
Brandie earned her Associate’s degree and will soon begin working as a Registered Nurse at Jackson Purchase Medical Center. Thanks to her new degree, she will earn significantly more than if she had not returned to school and will have more opportunities for advancement.
“The most exciting thing about my graduation is knowing I’ve finally made it through all the obstacles that have kept me from succeeding,” says single parent, Anissa Madding who received WIOA Adult assistance to earn her Diploma in Dental Assisting. “Everyone should definitely pursue their dreams of getting their college education. It’s important to know, that the sky’s the limit! Only you can stop yourself from accomplishing your dreams.”
Anissa is searching for work and is very hopeful that she’ll soon find a position. She is the first person in her immediate family to graduate from college.
April Turner is also a single parent who received WIOA Adult assistance to complete her Diploma in Dental Assisting. She decided to return to school after a divorce and wanted to make a better life for herself and her son.
“How could I teach my son to follow his dreams if I was not going to do so myself,” said Turner. “I chose to lead by example. I have just accomplished a lifelong dream, with my son cheering me on the whole time. Nothing in life is worth having if it’s given to you or easy to achieve. It’s nice to know you accomplished and fulfilled the desires of your heart. It will make walking across that stage all the more worthwhile.”
The West Kentucky Workforce Board is a nonprofit organization responsible for responding to training needs, economic development, and workforce development programs throughout the Purchase and Pennyrile Areas of West Kentucky. The Workforce Board oversees the One-Stop Career Center System in the region in conjunction with local elected officials.
© Purchase Area Development District and PADD Perspectives, 2016.
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