Community collaboration celebrates new graduates

2012-10-30T14:24:00Z 2012-10-30T16:32:11Z Community collaboration celebrates new graduatesRob Earnshaw Times Correspondent
October 30, 2012 2:24 pm  • 

EAST CHICAGO │ Twelve graduates of a certified nursing assistant program are ready to pursue new careers or continue their education courtesy of a collaboration to "put East Chicago back to work.”

The Foundations of East Chicago provided a grant to the Holistic Community Coalition to help fund the workforce development program provided by Ivy Tech Corporate College.

The first graduating class of the program was honored Tuesday at Ameristar Casino.

“It was an opportunity to get further educated,” said graduate Ivonne Torres, on why she applied for the program. “What I like about the program is having the opportunity to help other people.”

The Rev. Darnell Johnson, head of the Holistic Community Coalition, said these training opportunities are not just about training residents for a job, it’s about changing their way of life.

Johnson told the graduates the program “is a milestone along your journey.”

Johnson said one of the returns on the investment would be to have the graduates return to college because becoming a CNA taught them they could complete college work.

Torres already said she plans to further her education.

“I want to go for ultrasound tech,” she said.

Fellow graduate Waymon Ellison said the program helped him out when he couldn’t find a job. Now he has one.

“My life is better,” he said.

Karen Orosz, director of the Corporate College of Ivy Tech, said the Corporate College was designed to customize courses and offer nationally recognized certifications and short-term training programs so individuals could get a job and then go on to college if it’s what they want to do.

“It allows them to see what the rigors of working in a classroom are,” she said.

Russell Taylor, executive director of the Foundations of East Chicago, said the new strategic plan is to try to create a sustainable life for every East Chicagoan.

“We are really happy that people’s lives are in fact changing for the better,” he said.

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