Program offers adults a high school redo
Graduates of South Central Louisiana Technical College’s WorkReady U Program gathered for a commencement program on Feb. 26 at the Young Memorial Campus in Morgan City. The program offers an opportunity to earn a high school equivalency diploma.
A commencement exercise was held for graduates of the WorkReady U Program on Feb. 26 in Morgan City as South Central Louisiana Technical College continues to chip away at the over half a million working-age adults in Louisiana without a high school credential.
The college, which took over the program once administered by the St. Mary Parish School Board, graduated more than 100 people through the program last year, 87 of which came through the Young Memorial campus in Morgan City. The commencement was for those who attended the Morgan City campus and graduated last year.
Jamie Thibodaux, 32, of Patterson said the graduation ceremony was an emotional time for her and almost brought her to tears, realizing that she had persevered and accomplished something that brought her a sense of pride.
“I felt on top of the world,” Thibodaux said. “It was a big achievement for me. It was good for my self-esteem and it set a good example for my four kids.”
She hopes the program will help expand her employment opportunities to take care of herself and her family.
The WorkReady U program began statewide in 2010 and is a network of 37 programs that operate throughout Louisiana by providing basic skills remediation, secondary credential preparation, wrap around student services, transitional services and postsecondary dual enrollment.
Christy Thomas, WorkReady U coordinator at South Central Louisiana Technical College, said the college began administering the program in St. Mary Parish in August 2013. It services the parish through classes at the Young Memorial Campus and Franklin High School. Classes for students attending in Franklin will be moved from the high school to the old city hall building in the spring. The college also offers services to some of the parish’s incarcerated population.
More people have attended the program and are prepared to take the GED test but have been unable to afford the $90 fee that the testing company charges, Thomas said.
Earl Meador, college director, said that issue has been addressed.
“Because this is such an important component of the workforce development for our future, we looked into directing scholarship funds to cover those costs,” Meador said. Morgan City residents are eligible to apply for a scholarship funded by the HB Young Foundation and administered by the college for the testing fees, he said.
WorkReady U brings a renewed set of expectations for adult education and a different culture, a news release announcing the commencement said. The goal of WorkReady U is to help people acquire the means to improve one’s life circumstances through gaining the skills that lead to a job providing a sustainable wage, the release said.
Louisiana has radically changed its adult education delivery model and can now substantially increase the number of people who are part of the middle class, Meador said.
About 600,000 adults in the state lack a high school diploma and about 44 percent of them are unemployed. Yet, St. Mary Parish and the rest of the state have employers unable to find enough qualified workers, Meador said.
South Central Louisiana Technical College aims to change that equation with its participation in WorkReady U, he said. The statewide program moved adult basic education, including courses to prepare for GED testing, from high schools to community colleges, while also offering students additional support and opportunities for postsecondary education.
“WorkReady U goes beyond getting a GED diploma. It is about providing workforce training,” Meador said.
“Participating in the WorkReady U graduation is one of the most rewarding opportunities that I have as a college leader,” Meador said. “It is so great to look at the audience of students and know these students have done the work to change not just their lives but also their families’ lives in the years ahead. The graduation is just the first step on a journey that will make them the workforce and leaders of tomorrow.”
Registration for new students will be held at 900 Youngs Road on April 2, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Applicants must be 18 years of age and provide a valid state picture identification, Social Security card and $25 to enroll. Classes begin April 7 and are held day and night at the Morgan City campus. Day classes are also offered at the Franklin branch campus.
Registration will take place the first Wednesday of each month with classes scheduled to begin the following Monday.