Contact: Josh Martin
Office of Institutional Communications
jmartin [at] qcc.mass.edu
WORCESTER, MA—July 18, 2017— “Lifting all families up” has been a bit of a mantra for State Senator Karen E. Spilka, and it was that message that resonated for 28 recent graduates of Quinsigamond Community College’s first TRAIN program. The graduates completed a Nursing Assistant/Home Health Aide course that helped to prepare them to take the Red Cross test and become Certified Nursing Assistants.
TRAIN (Training Resources and Internship Networks) is a pilot program overseen by the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (MDHE), in collaboration with the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development. The program is in response to the staggering percentage of long-term unemployment in the Commonwealth (34.6 percent in a 2014 survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics).The program focuses on the occupational and readiness skills individuals will need to assist them in returning to the workforce in industries such as healthcare, advanced manufacturing, computer science/information technology, life sciences and/or financial services. QCC was awarded a $200,000 grant from MDHE to implement the program.
“Community colleges play such a vital role in our education system, our higher education system and our economic and job creation system,” said Senator Spilka.
The Senator, along with Secretary of Elder Affairs Alice Bonner; David Cedrone, Associate Commissioner for Economic and Workforce Development for the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education; former QCC President Gail Carberry and Kathie Manning, Dean of Workforce Development and Continuing Education at QCC, were on hand to congratulate the participants on their achievements at a recent graduation ceremony held at QCC.
To qualify for the TRAIN program, participants had to be under-employed or unemployed for at least a year. Chosen participants were given assistance and support through a Worcester Downtown Connect network that included comprehensive case management, individualized service plans, skills training and employment related services, in addition to financial literacy assistance through Worcester Credit Union, as well as transportation, childcare stipends and a weekly salary through Worcester Community Action Council.
“It’s all about timing. They (participants) have to be ready to make a shift and they have to want to make a difference for their lives and their families,” said Program Coordinator Jo Sundin. We keep checking in with them and motivating them, but they have to be ready to change.”
Senator Spilka added, “If we can give them the tools to lift themselves, their families will be lifted, their communities will be lifted, and in the long run our Commonwealth will be lifted.”
The graduation ceremony featured three program participants who spoke of their life-changing experiences.
Shannon Warren, of Webster, was someone who had been struggling for much of her life. Dropping out of high school and on her own at 17, she felt education and being successful were beyond her reach. Becoming a mother made her start to consider her future again, however, she couldn’t seem to escape her own demons. Ms. Webster decided it was time to change the way she was living for herself and her daughter. She reached out to Webster Adults Basic Education Program and there she learned about the TRAIN program at QCC. She applied to the program and was accepted.
“Through the support I received I started to believe in myself again. I felt like I was a part of something. This course was so much more than a course and changed my whole outlook of myself and what I truly wanted in life,” Ms. Warren said. “I now want to further my education in the health field and go as far as I can go.”
Participant Hellen Nyangori, of Dudley, a mother of three and grandmother of two said the program showed her that age doesn’t matter when it comes to learning.
“Coming from Kenya, I thought I knew a lot about being a nurse, but I have come to know there is always more to learn,” Ms. Nyangori said.
Participant Mirriam Valentin, of Worcester, said she worked many jobs over the years using her daughter as her motivation. Then in 2005, her young daughter passed away due to cancer. Ms. Valentin fell into a dark place and could no longer work. She said the TRAIN program helped her to break out.
“I was out of work for a decade. Now I have a career which gives me dignity and respect,” Ms. Valentin said.
Two graduates of the program, Sherry Picard, of Webster, and Susan Nordstrom, of Shrewsbury, did their clinical placement at Knollwood Nursing Center in Worcester and have already been hired by the company.
Concluding the ceremony Ms. Manning told the graduates, “You’ve taken a first step on what I hope will be a long and successful journey. Please know you always have us here to support you.”
The graduation ceremony was held in June for all three of the six-week classes that began in January, March and May.
For more information, contact Josh Martin, Director of Institutional Communications at 508.854.7513 or jmartin [at] qcc.mass.edu
Quinsigamond Community College is the most affordable higher education in Worcester County. As a regional leader in education and workforce development, QCC serves the diverse educational needs of Central Massachusetts by providing affordable, accessible, and high quality programming leading to transfer, career, and lifelong learning.