Alumni & Graduate Success Stories
Famous Alumni Highlights
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George Foreman grew up in the Fifth Ward community of Houston, Texas although he was born in Marshall, Texas along with six siblings. By his own admission in his autobiography, George was a troubled youth. He dropped out of school at the age of 15 and spent time as a mugger. At age 16, Foreman had a change of heart and convinced his mother to sign him up for the Job Corps after seeing an ad for the Corps on TV. As part of the Job Corps, Foreman earned his GED and trained to become a carpenter and bricklayer.
After moving to Pleasanton, California, with the help of a supervisor, he began to train. Foreman was interested in football and idolized Jim Brown, but gave it up for boxing.
Judge Sergio Gutierrez
Judge Sergio Gutierrez, an immigrant and former farmworker, 16 at the time, began attending the Wolf Creek Job Corps in Oregon. After visiting an employment office, the Job Corps program was recommended and as a promise to his late grandma, he enrolled that day. Judge Gutierrez studied carpentry and earned his GED through the Job Corps in the early 1970’s. Sergio quickly became a leader among the students and says the structure, support, and serenity of the center “gave me an affirmation that I could do something with my life.”
“I was not going down the right path, and the program literally saved my life,” he said. “My life turned around when I enrolled in the Wolf Creek Job Corp Center in Glide, Oregon. Job Corps saved my life. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree from Boise State University and a Juris Doctor from the University of California, Hastings Law School. But I am most proud of the GED that I attained at Wolf Creek because it represented a new start in my life.”
Dr. MaryAnn Gamble
1992 graduate of Job Corps
Recent Graduate Spotlight & Stories
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Emmanuel Tolentino graduated in 2020 from the Edison Job Corps. A New Jersey native, Emmanuel worked many different positions in the city before finding the Job Corps program. For Emmanuel, the decision to join Job Corps became a decision of becoming homeless or changing his life.
Emmanuel hit the ground running studying the HVAC Pre-apprentice trade. While getting his well-rounded education at Job Corps, Emmanuel also participated in health and wellness activities.
His tough decision paid off! Now, Emmanuel is employed by Solar Landscape and making a great wage plus a healthy bonus. Emmanuel did not stop there! He plans to attend college in five years.
In addition to providing Emmanuel with the necessary skills for HVAC, the Edison Job Corps center prepared him with several soft skills including independent living, social development, and time management.
“Extreme focus creates results,” said Emmanuel when asked about what he learned.
Emmanuel is now financially independent and is focusing on the future and never looking back.
Deon McAdams, a railroad conductor for Amtrak is able to make more than $110,000 a year in some metropolitan areas. He owes it all to graduating from Job Corps’ Transportation Communications Union/IAM Advanced Transportation Training Program, the organization’s largest advanced trade which marks 50 years of success this year.
“The thing about Job Corps is that it’s not just about a career; it’s a life altering program and we wouldn’t consider it as a last resort now,” said Deon McAdams. “For someone who is considering an alternative, vocational school, technical program or college, Job Corps is a place where you learn and are groomed to be a functional adult in society. Job Corps’ TCU literally changed our lives.”
McAdams has worked with Amtrak for 10 years. For the past three and a half years, he’s been a conductor, working with as many as 300 passengers at a time.
“I was raised by my grandmother, but I didn’t have structure, though I always wanted structure,” said McAdams. “Job Corps is a place to get your mind together, get counseling, and you get paid. Job Corps altered my life.”
His life was altered so much, that not only did he become president of his campus and land a great job; he also met his wife in Job Corps!
Jeanette McAdams was a solid B student in high school. She graduated and went straight to college, the first in her family to do so. Despite being good in academics, she found herself struggling because she didn’t know what she wanted to do. Further, the transition between high school and college didn’t offer all the supports she was used to having from her family. Then, financial aid became a challenge.
“I was on Dean’s list and everything, but I went into a little depression because I was used to doing well, but didn’t have the support system I was used to,” said McAdams.
She heard about Job Corps and enrolled at age 20. I originally thought it was a place for people who dropped out of high school, as a last resort, but saw it was much more.
“It felt more like a close-knit campus than college did. They really were just more hands on, helping me with resume. I didn’t get anything like that in college.”
Jeanette set a goal to matriculate through Job Corps over six months and achieved her goal. She says she received tips and tools from industry professionals that gave specific details to the industry which helped her make a decision on where she wanted to end up. She even met her husband, Deon McAdams there.
“It’s time to take away the stigma because there’s a lot of successful people that come out of Job Corps,” said McAdams, a Job Corps alumna who works in transportation as a red coat passenger service agent for Delta in Raleigh, North Carolina. “How some people talk about Oxford, I feel the same way about Job Corps. It’s just not vocalized that much and it’s time to shine a line on Job Corps. It’s not a last resort; Job Corps is a game changer. Just like college, trade school, it should be seen as any other option.”
“My life’s work is to reach back and help somebody to rise up,” said 2002 Job Corps graduate LaChan Russell. LaChan is committed to using this perspective as part of her life plan. It’s quite a transition from her lifetime before Job Corps, when she was a self proclaimed “party girl” and worked jobs until she got tired of them, moving on to another. But that’s what the Job Corps experience is all about: aha! moments, progression and impactful change.
When she was younger, LaChan’s mother pushed her towards a career, but LaChan wanted to go to college. She was able to do both with Job Corps, though it took some patience.
“When I became pregnant and had my first child, that lit the fire under me to go to college and I became eligible for Job Corps. During this time, I completed coursework in science,” said LaChan. She was also able to fit in joining a bowling league!
LaChan said Job Corps taught her the value of being on time, prepared, and responsible. “It taught me the ability to prove to an employer that I am going to do my part and see my value as an employee. Job Corps gave me a new perspective and taught me that I have something to contribute. Job Corps was the springboard in making me believe in myself. My fear and anxiety was allayed because of Job Corps and my college experience.”
Mark Berry, 2021 Office Administration graduate of the Shriver Job Corps Center in Devens, MA. Mark has received his certifications in IC3 Digital Literacy and Microsoft Word. Prior to coming to the Shriver Job Corps Center, Mark was a full-time farmer for his family and working for the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab doing online cyber security work. Mark needed a new career path and learned about Job Corps from his mother.
Job Corps has prepared Mark to pursue his next dream of going to college. He credits Job Corps with building his confidence, bettering his math and reading skills, and becoming better organized, which he attributes to his Office Administration trade.
As a recent graduate, Mark excitedly shared his immediate plans to go to community college and major in computer science as well as enter the ROTC program. After community college, Mark plans to continue his education in computer engineering and join the U.S. Air Force.
Mark’s advice: “Stick to your path, work hard on your trade. You don’t really need to make friends, set your goals and achieve. Aim high and go for it!”
Having only completed the eighth grade, James David Jackson worked in a low-paying laborer position at a sawmill, one of the few job options within his area for someone who hadn’t finished high school. Today, James’ life is completely different. He was empowered with support from two Job Corps Centers.
“I am now working in a field that I had dreamt about since I was a child,” Jackson said. “I will move forward to further my career using the lessons I have learned during my time enrolled in the Job Corps program.”
James is a 2018 healthcare graduate of Charleston Job Corps. He is now working as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) on a neuroscience medical-surgical unit at the Charleston Area Medication Center while also pursuing an Associate of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Rio Grande.
Jackson completed the Practical Nursing program at the Garnet Career Center in Charleston after completing his training at Charleston Job Corps as part of Job Corps’ Advanced Career Training program in which students can attend college or other advanced vocational programs at no cost to themselves and continue to live on center. His goal is to become a registered nurse.
“The Job Corps Program helped prepare me for work and furthering my education by helping me to work toward reaching my goals on center and encouraging me to always aim higher,” said Jackson. “The goal-oriented style of learning that was provided helped me to achieve my goals. These goals were initially small; however, I gained more confidence in my invested time and work with each goal I completed.”
Jackson also completed the Pharmacy Technician, Certified Nursing Assistant and Dental Assistant training programs at Charleston Job Corps and earned numerous accreditations including: Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC) – West Virginia Department of Education; national and state Certified Pharmacy Technician; West Virginia Certified Nursing Assistant; the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB) Infection Control certification; and DANB Radiation Health and Safety certification. This is quite a list of accomplishments considering James’ childhood challenges.
In addition to earning a high school diploma and completing his career technical training programs, Jackson was active in the center’s Student Government Association and dorm leadership and worked under the Leisure Time Employment program as a CNA in palliative care at the Hubbard Hospice House located just across the street from the Charleston Job Corps Center.
“My life post-Job Corps has improved immensely,” said Jackson. “I currently have a job that I love, maintain an independent place of residency of my choosing, and can afford the time to strive further into my nursing career.”