Readying for jobs, removing barriers
Some were goofy, some were proud and some were timid. But no matter how they approached the ceremony, 22 people graduated a training program Friday morning in Sanford with more job skills than they had just months ago.
The training was for those with significant barriers to finding employment or workforce training — a disability, a lack of transportation or having very little money — and was a joint effort by Lee County Industries and Central Carolina Community College. The North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center gave LCI one of just 13 grants it had available for the entire state to help fund the project, called Basic Manufacturing Skills Training, and people from Lee, Chatham, Harnett and Moore counties participated.
LCI Executive Director Meg Moss said the grant made the program possible, but the students made it successful.
"Regardless of the training we provided, it is ultimately the decision, and the responsibility, of the young adults here today" to make the most of the opportunity, Moss said. The goal of LCI, she said, is to remove employment barriers and create independent and productive citizens. And with a full third of the class already employed, plus others with interviews coming up, officials said the class is well on its way.
Cathy Swindell, CCCC's director of industry services, encouraged the graduates to press on although they came out of the program with a large amount of training and certificates. Each person earned a manufacturing skills certificate, a career compass certificate, a career readiness certificate, a work keys assessment, a professionally done resume and hours of plant tours and training in work skills, interview skills and social media behavior.
"When you go into these jobs, don't stop learning," Swindell said, adding that many companies offer optional extra training, and that it would be foolish not to accept other opportunities to further their education.
"Take advantage of tuition reimbursements to go beyond where you are now," she said.
The administrators also honored the students who distinguished themselves in the program, distributing awards to the three with perfect attendance and the two who tied for highest GPA. Chris Viverette, an LCI assistant, told those assembled that people who don't show up regularly and with a good attitude are wasting their opportunity. And while only three of the 22 had perfect attendance, he said they all showed tenacity in fighting through obstacles — like a lack of transportation — to complete the program.
"If I'm a little hard on them, a little demanding, it's because I know they have what it takes to succeed," he told the friends and family members in attendance. "And I thank you all for working with them behind the scenes."
Gabrielle Fox, Jermain Guillergan and Remus McDougald earned the perfect attendance awards. Guillergan and McDougald tied for the highest GPA, for which they received free use of the Simulated Work Environment at the college's Innovation Center.
Finally, CCCC human resources development instructor Dedrick Petty sent the grads off with a speech in which he quoted Malcolm X — "tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare today" — and told them to remember the value of hard work.
"When you walk out of these doors today, you should feel accomplished, confident and prepared for what's to come," he said.
The graduates were:
* Hoshni Alli
* Daniel Benotti
* Tenaja Bey
* Shaniqua Bridges
* Gary Coats
* Racheal Flow
* Gabrielle Fox
* Kevin Fraley
* Jermaine Guillergan
* Randall Jones
* Grayling Matthews
* Remus McDougald
* Jessica McNeill
* Hollie Moore
* Matthew Morris
* Angela Page
* Larnelle Rawlins
* DeJuan Smith
* Cyrus Snead
* Brittney St. Julian
* Walter Walker
* Raymond Younger III