Written by June Crawford, WIOA Participant
In July of 2013 my husband and I found ourselves having to make one of the hardest decisions we had faced. Our family business had recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. It had been started by my Dad and Grandpa and had become my husband’s and mine nine years earlier. Now due to the economy and my husband’s health we had to make the decision to close the store. This is when I found myself having to look at other career options.
I walked into the NC Works office hoping to find help with unemployment, having no idea what to expect and feeling hopeless. What I found were people who cared and had answers for my dilemma. I was introduced to several programs that could assist me, from creating a resumé to how to pay my home mortgage. The WIOA program assisted me in finding what career opportunities could open for me and to find what my new interests might be. They helped me to see that a woman who has assisted her husband in the family business and aided her children to choose the colleges that best fit their dreams, can also start a new path of her own. I found it is not to late begin again.
I was enrolled in Southwestern Community College for the Human Services degree. The classes were interesting but sometimes hard. There were times I wanted to “throw in the towel” so I would call Susan, my WIOA advisor and she would assure me I could do it. It was weeks and months of that assurance that kept me going. Not only that, but the WIOA program had my back when it came to purchasing my books and helping me to choose the right supplies. They assisted me to remember to keep my car in good running order and aided in choosing the proper attire for interviews.
On May 10, 2016 after English, math, psychology, public speaking, and many human service classes, I graduated! I not only graduated, but I graduated with honors, Magna Cum Laude. I have been inducted into the National Technical Honor Society and the National Society of Leadership and Success (Sigma Alpha Pi). I was asked to give the student perspective speech at the Human Service pinning ceremony alongside my instructor Sarah Altman and before my peers, dean, and family. I also took extra classes so I graduated with my Human Service degree and certificate in substance abuse. I did an internship with Project Challenge, which allowed me to network with several organizations in the seven western counties of North Carolina.
After the many opportunities granted me, through the encouragement and guidance of the WIOA program and advisor, Susan Waldorf, I finished the program and landed an interview with Children’s Hope Alliance, Hawthorn Heights emergency youth shelter. I was in my last weeks of school, preparing for finals, trying to get in all my hours of internship, and taking care of my family when I was called for the interview that many students dream about. It was full time, salary, day work, within the field of study I had been preparing for. I was chosen for the job and was to begin after graduation! As I walked to get my diploma (wearing the cap and gown the WIOA program purchased for me) I knew through hard work and encouragement I had reached my goal. I had made new friends, fulfilled the demands of SCC, and landed a wonderful job all because I walked into Susan’s office. I began my journey feeling hopeless, with no clue what I should do with my future and was presented the opportunity to further my education. Thus my journey continues with hope for the future and for my family.