Kittrell Job Corps graduates 59

Aug. 23, 2013 @ 07:53 PM

Soloist Angela Williams sang “Wind Beneath My Wings” to the summer 2013 Kittrell Job Corps Center graduates who entered the center’s gym Friday afternoon with two red roses in hand.

After Williams finished her last note and sat down, Social Development Director Mary Jones instructed the graduates to pass on the roses to two individuals who impacted their lives.

“Always remember to look back and say thank you,” Jones said.

Tearful graduates handed the rose to parents, faculty members and friends who helped them along the way.

The ceremony for 59 Kittrell Job Corps graduates marks the center’s third annual national commencement.

Job Corps is a career preparation program for at-risk youth who are seeking a second chance to complete their education. The program has served more than 3 million out-of-work young adults and underserved youth, with 125 centers across the country.

Shalaia Dinkins, one of the graduates at Friday’s ceremony, recently passed the state board exam required to become a Certified Nursing Assistant.

“I came to Jobs Corps because I wanted to get Certified Nursing Assistant training,” Dinkins said. “This is a great program and they provide you with books, school supplies and resources to help you for free.”

State Sen. Angela Bryant, the commencement speaker, said the job placement program contributes to local economic recovery.

“I was really inspired by the students and their accomplishments,” Bryant said. “Some of these students really need a second chance to receive an education.”

Bryant said the opportunity for students to live on campus helps them succeed at the Job Corps Center.

“To be able to provide students with a safe environment is a special gift that we have to nurture,” Bryant said.

Job Corps graduate Zan Po said he plans to continue his education at Vance-Granville Community College.

Po received the Fluor Foundation Job Corps Scholarship, one of two student awards presented at commencement, that offers $5,000 per semester to graduates who pursue further schooling.

Po came to the U.S. in 2009 from a Burmese refugee camp in Thailand and he spoke little English. But Po improved his language skills through the English as a Second Language classes he took during his time in the program.

Joan Robinson, the business community liaison, said Friday’s celebration is as meaningful for her as it is for the graduates.

“When they finish Jobs Corps, we place them,” Robinson said. “Whether that be in the military, college or here working for us.”

 

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.