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Job Corps to pay for CWC tuition for at least four students

Jun 12, 2016 By Daniel Bendtsen, Staff Writer

Eleven students already have completed their programs, and another 23 are set to finish within the next month.

As the Wind River Job Corps graduates its first ever class this week, the vocational center is moving to greater cooperation with Central Wyoming College by paying for the tuition of at least four departing students.

Three students have already been selected to fill the four available spots.

Bob LeMasters, Job Corps's advanced training coordinator, said there's a flexible budget that could allow tuition to be paid for more students.

That decision, he said, will partially depend on the level of success the students going to CWC have.

Riverton native Adrian Cook, 21, finished his welding program May 27 and became the first student selected, starting a two-year double associate degree program May 31.


Cook is one of 34 Job Corps students eligible to walk at commencement this Friday at 2 p.m.

Eleven students already have completed their programs, and another 23 are set to finish within the next month.

When Cook began his studies at Job Corps last fall, he had considered going directly into the workforce after finishing his program. But with the oil and gas markets plummeting -- and welding work hard to come by -- Cook decided to instead start an advanced training in welding.

This fall, he's also start a business administration program with the ultimate goal of starting his own company.

Fortunately, there are other Job Corps programs besides welding that line up with the curriculum of CWC. Students in heavy equipment operations are able to use some of those same skills in CWC's automotive program.

And Job Corps's office administration, accounting and electrical programs all have corresponding advanced training at CWC.

"CWC has been hand-in-hand with Job Corps," Cook said.

Different studies

Yet students who are seeking advanced training at CWC need not necessarily study the same fields they did at Job Corps.

One of the four students getting free tuition is completing his program in heavy equipment operations, but is going into criminal justice at CWC.

Wind River Job Corps, which opened in August 2015 and has a capacity for 300 students, has an explicit purpose of serving low-income and at-risk youth aged 16 to 24.

Wyoming was the last state to get a Job Corps, a concept developed as part of President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty.

The Wind River Job Corps brings in new students every Monday, and since February, outreach coordinator Christa Stream has brought those students to CWC during their first week. These visits, she said, help give "students at the very beginning a goal to strive for."

"When they visit, they can touch, taste, and feel what college would be like if they chose to come to CWC," Stream said.

'Good enough'

When many start out, "they kind of have this attitude that they're not good enough for college," said Stephanie Kobbe, who works with Job Corps students in the early stages of their programs.

Kobbe said she works on positive affirmative with her students, and the visits to CWC make them more enthused, leading to a common sentiment of "if I could do Job Corps, I could do this."

While on this trips, Job Corps students are familiarized with admissions officers and are explained the scholarship process.

"A lot of the girls want to be nurses now," Kobbe said. "They didn't expect it to be so modern at a community college in Wyoming."

Ivan Posey, who left the Eastern Shoshone Business Council last month to become CWC's diversity coordinator, now makes regular visits to the Job Corps to tell those students about opportunities at CWC.

"The setting up there is very encouraging and very inclusive," Posey said. "Students are well-taught there."

From his experience as a tribal leader, Posey said he's seen how "young people on the reservation have void that needs to be filled" and said he's excited now be able to fully focus on contributing to that effort.

"I only have to focus on 10 issues here, where I had to worry about 100 issues before," he said.

Posey said the path from Job Corps to CWC is a natural way for underprivileged youth to improve their situation.

"Even if they have a certain amount of education, their quality of life improves. That's always the case," he said.

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