YouthWorks Participant Achieves GED and Leadership Skills

Alexis enrolled in the Gaston College YouthWorks Program on January 21, 2016 with the goals of obtaining her high school diploma and getting a job. Alexis also had a dream of becoming a nurse one day and helping others as her grandparents had done for her. A few weeks after Alexis enrolled in YouthWorks, her world was turned upside down when her infant daughter began having severe seizures. Despite spending a great deal of time at the hospital and at doctor’s appointments, Alexis still managed to attend her GED classes and complete class assignments on time. Additionally, during this time Alexis also attended YouthWorks workshops, consistently meeting with her case manager, and readily volunteering for program related activities.

While taking part in YouthWorks, Alexis developed many attributes such as leadership, communication, teamwork, problem solving and decision making. In fact, during monthly group workshops, Alexis’ leadership and teamwork abilities were often displayed, and her fellow YouthWorks participants respected her opinion and direction. Alexis was engaged in the program and intent upon maximizing her involvement and gaining as much knowledge and information as feasible. She was often the first person to sign up for workshops and other program opportunities, and when the opportunity presented itself to represent YouthWorks at the NC Youth Summit in 2016, she capitalized on it.

Alexis is a true leader and it is displayed in her drive and determination to succeed. Her primary focus was to put herself in a stable position to financially support and take care of herself and her daughter, while also helping others. YouthWorks recognized Alexis’ commitment and desire to make her life better, and she was offered a Work Experience opportunity, as a clerical assistant, at the NCWorks Career Center East location in June 2016. Alexis seized this opportunity and while working full-time hours at the career center, Alexis continued to work diligently toward her goal of completing her GED. Consequently, Alexis exceled in her clerical assistant role and was consistent in her attendance and with work expectations.

As a result of her assiduousness, Alexis completed her HSE/GED on August 25, 2016 and received her diploma on March 24, 2017 at Gaston College’s Commencement Ceremony. Additionally, even though Alexis was in her Work Experience placement at the Career Center, she still made it a priority to meet with her YouthWorks’ Case Manager and Work Experience Specialist in order to prepare for unsubsidized employment. Alexis’ position with the career center ended on November 18, 2016, and on December 6, 2016 Alexis obtained full time employment with Holy Angels as a Direct Support Professional, which is in the path of her ultimate career field of nursing. Just as Alexis did with YouthWorks, she is also doing with Holy Angels in capitalizing on all training and learning opportunities that are afforded to her.

Alexis is very appreciative of the support and guidance she received from Gaston College YouthWorks, and she continues to offer the program assistance wherever she can. Subsequently, Alexis is pursuing her dream of one day becoming a nurse in the military, and she has now completed the ASVAB and plans to enlist in the Air Force in the latter part of 2017. Alexis is constantly pursuing ways to better herself, in addition to working toward a prosperous future for her and her daughter.

Meet Anita Pacheo

When Anita was only a Junior in high school she became pregnant. Still she worked as hard as she could to try to stay on track and graduate with her classmates. When her baby was born prematurely, and had to stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for two weeks, Anita still continued to try to balance the demands of motherhood with her schoolwork, but as senior year approached she found out she was still classified as a Junior, even after all her hard work. She was devasted, but instead of giving up she decided to find another way to complete high school. She got a tip from a Nurse from Nurse Family Partnership, about NCWorks NextGen program (formerly YouthWorks). Anita did not hesitate to enroll in the program, and connected with Gaston College to complete her Adult High School Diploma.

NCWorks NextGen program also assisted Anita with obtaining her first job through a Work Experience position. Again she got a life changing tip when one of the CST drivers who was transporting her to work told Anita about her other job as an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) Sparked with interest, Anita decided to pursue a career as a paramedic. The Gaston County WIOA program helped Anita by creating a pre-apprenticeship opportunity for her at Gaston Emergency Management Services (GEMS).

Anita is now working in her chosen career, and she’s receiving guidance, support and mentorship from experienced paramedics, while she pursues her degree at Gaston College.

Anita credits many caring adults for her success, including her mentors at GEMS, NCWorks NextGen, Gaston College, and the Workforce Development Board’s Business Service Representative.

Gaston YouthWorks Program Encourages Teen to Succeed

When Irma Palencia was only 9 years old, her mother passed away. Irma became separated from her siblings, and went to live with another family member. She experienced very unfortunate circumstances and faced difficulties that most young teenagers are not equipped to handle. Fortunately, when Irma was 16, she met a friend whose family made her welcome, and made her feel part of a safe and loving family. It was this new friend who eventually introduced her to the WIOA YouthWorks program. Irma enrolled in the program at Gaston College in January 2016 and established two goals: To obtain her Adult High School Diploma, and to gain employment. From the day she enrolled, Irma met all program expectations and participated in every opportunity she was offered. As a result of her tenacity, she received her Adult High School diploma on April 6, 2016. Prior to that, in March 2016, she earned a Silver Level Career Readiness Certification, entered a Work Experience, and also completed her Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which qualified her for a Pell Grant for post-secondary education.

Irma is now 19 years old and enrolled in the Pre-Nursing program at Gaston College. She is grateful for the support and encouragement she received from the College and YouthWorks.

“The YouthWorks program means a lot of things to me,” she said. “It means help, opportunity, and accomplishments. I never thought that I would be able to attend college until my friend Anita introduced me to Tammy McIntyre, a Youth Specialist at Gaston College, and my case manager. The staff of the Gaston College Life Skills department and YouthWorks encouraged me more. They gave me the support I needed. These are the type of people every parent would want around their children.”

Because of her commitment and accomplishments, Irma is the recipient of the 2016 Governor’s NCWorks Award of Distinction as the Outstanding Workforce Development Young Adult.