‘Seize the opportunity of life’
On the 50th anniversary of the Kittrell Job Corps Center, 37 graduates celebrated the event with their brand-new diplomas.
Makayla McGill, 20, decided to enter Job Corps after graduating high school because it would help set her on the right path.
“I’ve learned how to be independent and how to live on my own,” said McGill, who earned her training in medical office support.
The Fayetteville resident has started school at Richmond Community College, where she plans to study elementary education.
The program started in 1964 as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty.
It provides low-income young people ages 16 to 24 years old career technical training and education for careers in carpentry, culinary arts, facility maintenance, health occupations and business administration.
Since opening the first of what would become 125 centers, the program has trained more than 2.7 million young people.
Richard Price, a 2001 Kittrell Job Corps Center graduate, spoke at Friday’s graduation ceremony.
“You all are really in the best position to seize the opportunity of life,” he said. “Because of what you went through before you got here and the resilience you have is going to take you farther than your giftedness.”
After completing Job Corps, Price went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Livingstone College in Salisbury.
He also holds a Master of Arts degree in American history from St. John’s University in Queens, New York, and is pursuing a doctor of arts degree in global world history from St. John’s University.
He serves as an adjunct professor in the social sciences department at the College of New Rochelle in New York City.
Diamond Dunmore, 21, from Jacksonville, graduated Friday with training in medical office support and has enrolled in Miller-Motte College in Raleigh.
She said Job Corps taught her discipline and responsibility.
“We can’t just stay up late and come and go as we please,” she said. “And we have to wake up early every day. It’s a totally different lifestyle.”
At the ceremony, graduates handed roses to tearful relatives, friends and mentors as a symbol of gratitude.
The graduation was held in the Job Corps Center gym where rows of bleachers were filled with current students who cheered on their graduating peers.
Denzel Mills, 20, was involved in student government during his time at Job Corps.
“I know how to manage my time better now, and I’ve got leadership skills that I didn’t have before coming here,” he said.
He attends Gastonia College and has plans to eventually receive a four-year degree from Winston Salem State University.
“I never would have thought I would be going to college, and I probably wouldn’t if I hadn’t come here,” he said.
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