Marian U, Edna Martin CC, YouthBuild graduate 60+ with HSEs and Certifications
After weeks of work, over 60 students gathered for a ceremony at Marian University's Allison Mansion with caps and gowns in hand to be recognized for accomplishments in overcoming their barriers to achieve educational progress.
“People invested in us, and we are so grateful,” said Sonya Barlow, who earned her hospitality (START) certification through Edna Martin Christian Center. Sonya initially went to EMCC for help with paying her utility bills, and ran into an education coach while there. After putting it off for a while, she eventually enrolled in the ten-week program, and now sees her life trajectory differently. “This is a stepping stone – now I am applying for jobs, and Edna Martin is helping me with my resume.”
Sonya's friend Temeka Thomas was quick to chime in when the topic of “why enroll” came up. “I did this for me – I did it to better myself,” she said. “I'm so excited – they lifted me up through losing my apartment and other tough times, but now I am here and my children are so proud of me.”
Temeka had similarly found Edna Martin Christian Center to seek help with mounting utility bills when she met Tawnya McCreary, their operations director. At this event, with numerous EMCC clients earning credentials, Tawnya appeared as a celebrity snapping photos and delivering hugs.
“Its never just social supports – we offer everything, and our clients have a choice to pursue more,” she said. “From funders, to programming, to the time that students have spent, to the efforts of staff and resources – to get here, it means our investment is getting a return. It is a blessing and an honor every time.”
Other participants were part of the YouthBuild program, which also utilizes EmployIndy's YES Indy funding to provide NCCER construction certifications and high school equivalencies.
Travis Smith is almost 18, struggled with traditional school, and intentionally stepped into an HSE class to change his learning environment and move into a career. “This is for regular people like me,” he said, “with lots of problems going on making regular school too hard. They helped me, they checked in on me and would give me a gas card or help with a phone bill when times got tough.”
The guest speaker at the ceremony, Evan Casey, left students with a feeling of inspiration – see the video below: