Posted on Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The following story is featured in the 2013-2014 Virginia Board of Workforce Development Annual Report.

Workforce-WednesdayJoshuah Russell was a high school dropout at 16. He remembers hating high school and didn’t believe education was important in his life. As time passed, though, Joshuah began to worry about Joshuah Russellhis future.

Joshuah, who is now 24, was working with a local roofing company when he heard about the PluggedInVA welding program offered in summer 2014 by Southwest Regional Adult Education and Southwest Virginia Community College. He applied for admission to the program in hopes of acquiring the education and skills needed to put him on a new career path.

Joshuah enrolled in a GED® test preparation class at Honaker High School in April 2014 and was the second adult student enrolled in Southwest Regional Adult Education to pass the computer-based GED test in May 2014. Once Joshuah was in the GED preparation class, he realized that he actually enjoyed being a student. He also saw how education could give him a more secure future. “It’s worth it to get my GED,” he said. “You just have to work a little harder to pass the new test. It felt good to accomplish something.”

Joshua began the 10-week welding program in June 2014. After completing the first half of the welding program, he said, “The welding program has taught me a lot. In the five weeks I have been here, I have gained the confidence that I will be able to have a career in welding. This program is great for anyone trying to improve his life.”

Earning a GED certificate was just the first step to a better future for Joshuah and his family. Joshuah completed the welding program in August 2014 with a number of certifications in hand. By completing this 10-credit program, he had earned a Career Studies Certificate in Semi-Automated (MIG) Welding from Southwest Virginia Community College, OSHA 10 and First Aid/CPR/ AED certifications, and a gold-level Career Readiness Certificate.

Joshuah experienced further success after the program when he was hired in September 2014 as a welder. He now works for Heintzmann Corporation, which manufactures mining equipment and supplies, in Cedar Bluff, Virginia.'

Amanda Christopher

Amanda Christopher is a graduate of Hollins University and Virginia Commonwealth University. A native of the DC metro area, Amanda worked in public relations for the American Red Cross before joining the Virginia Community College System as the Workforce Communications Coordinator.

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