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On April 2, 2014, The Western Region Youth First Transition Conference was held on the campus of Western Nebraska Community College. 332 persons from twenty school districts participated in the event, which was the 7th annual.
Full Conference Details are at The Conference Blog:
These lovely ladies completed all the training and assignments of the Six Part course, “Using the iPad To Promote Student Independence, Productivity, Inclusion and Communication.” The virtual trainer was Marsha Threlkeld, from the Washington Initiative for Supported Employment (WISE). The Onsite Trainers and monitors were Janine Barber and Craig Hicks from ESU # 13.
School district representatives, former VALTS administrators, teachers, families, friends and fellow students gathered on March 11th to congratulate the seven new VALTS graduates. Students Josie Carrillo, Desiree Colleado, Allan Cress, Keely Gloria, David Hoover, Marisela Lopez and Sadrick Munoz completed the VALTS program at the end of the third quarter.
VALTS Principal George Schlothauer reviewed the history of the VALTS program that started 17 years ago at the Carpenter Center in Terrytown. He congratulated the seven graduates noting, "this is just one small step in your journey through life, the trials and tribulations that you guys have gone through that we hear and see every day here at VALTS, you guys are an inspiration to us all."
Part of the ceremony was the seven graduates adding to the graduation "brick" wall. They each added a piece of paper in the shape of a brick with their original high school initials on to the "Building a Foundation" wall. The wall represents all of the former graduates in the VALTS program.
The Migrant Education Program serves children and youth ages 3-21 achieve their educational goals by providing extended support beyond the classroom. One important component is our Success for Out of School Youth project. Out of School Youth are students who are 18 to 21 years old, who have either dropped out of high school, or have moved to this country without enrolling in school. Our goal is to help as many youth as possible attain their GED, and pursue their career dreams. We do this by providing educational materials such as tablets with GED apps pre-loaded, books and study guides, physical support such as transportation to and from the testing center, and strong advocacy. Our recruiters act as the youth’s cheerleader, coach, and bus driver on the road to GED completion. The program recently had two graduates, and currently has several more studying and completing coursework towards their GED tests. Here is the story, in his own words, of one remarkable young person who recently completed his GED at WNCC with support from the Migrant Education Program.
I’m Justin. I just got my GED. I’ve been trying to get my GED for years. Well, kind of. Before I was recruited by Rosie Cobos into the Migrant Education Program, I hadn’t really been putting forth the effort of any kind to do my part. Then I realized that without an education, you’re never going to go anywhere in life. You can’t find a real job. You won’t be able to do the things you want to do or be able to have the job that you dream of. My mom always told me that if I find a job I love, I’ll never work a day in my life. So that’s what my plan is. It wasn’t easy to get here. I was walking two miles to work at a feedlot and two miles back home, after working in the heat all day, 13 hours a day, every day. When I got home, I didn’t want to study. I wanted to take a shower, and go to bed. But I knew that if I didn’t study, I wouldn’t get anywhere. I only had a couple of months to get my GED. Otherwise, I wouldn’t qualify for the MEP anymore, because I’d be turning 22. So I buckled down, because I knew that I didn’t want to keep walking to work. I knew I didn’t want to keep that same job, doing the same stuff every day. I decided to do it not only for me, but so that someday I could support my daughter.
I got my GED. I surprised everyone. Now I’ve got plans to go to Wisconsin and go to UTI, which is Universal Technical Institution for Diesel and Auto Mechanics. I’m going to do that with the help of organizations out there that will help me. But it’s not easy.
To all those who are doing the same thing, maybe you can just keep your heads up. Don’t’ let hard work make you want to quit. Hard work makes you stronger more than just physically. It makes you mentally stronger. It makes you ready for the world, because the world’s coming. If you’re not ready, it’s really going to hurt. It might take a long time. It took me years. I think I’ve been working on my GED for about four years off and on. I wasn’t really trying at first, but I was working on it. But I did it, and now I don’t have to worry about not having an education. I can go ahead and further my education. Thank you Rosie. I couldn’t have done it without you being there through the times that I wasn’t trying. You gave me the motivation to get it done, so thank you, Rosie. You are my hero!