WIOA program helped LCC graduate finish what she started — Neuse News

Sherrinita Caldwell from Kinston wanted to finish what she started a few years ago, her university degree. Married, separated and single mother of two children, she was a stay-at-home mother for a few years. She moved from Waldorf, MD, to Kingston in 2019 to help care for her mother who was battling cancer. Her mother’s health improved and Caldwell decided to enroll in the early childhood program at Lenoir Community College.

She had attended college before, but had no financial aid to cover her final semester until she discovered the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) adult program. She was recruited by WIOA career counselor Ika Grant and told about the benefits of the program. She enrolled in the WIOA Adult Program and received tuition and book assistance for her final semester. Caldwell maintained an A average in her classes while working part-time with the Lenoir County public school system. She also completed an internship while earning her degree.

Caldwell was persistent and consistent in achieving her educational goals. “I knew my kids depended on me and failing was not an option,” she said. “I struggled a bit with my public speaking course because I was nervous, but I quickly gained the confidence I needed and finished the course with an A.”

While working part-time, she became a mentor for children in grades one, two, and five at school and worked as an interventionist. She said she loves working with children and helping them overcome peer pressure, self-esteem issues, and any other issues affecting their educational needs or mental state.

Grant said the Caldwells had a special bond with children and she could tell if something was wrong. “She tutored them and took the time to make sure they understood their work and could complete it without her help,” she said.

Caldwell’s efforts did not go unnoticed by the staff, as they saw that the cultivated relationship Caldwell had with the children produced outstanding results in the classroom. He was offered a full-time position after completing his studies. She graduated with honors from LCC with an Early Childhood Diploma in May. She earned a 4.0 GPA in her final semester. Four days later, on May 9, she began her full-time position as a teacher’s assistant/bus driver with Lenoir County Public Schools.

She said her children seeing her cross the stage to receive her diploma was the highlight of the evening for her. She added that she enjoyed the trip and was happy to have followed her heart on this career path. She said being in the WIOA program helped her stay on track with her classes. This gave her the opportunity to share with her WIOA career counselor, Ika Grant, any concerns she might have or any help she needed to succeed in school and find a job.

“Mrs. Grant is awesome. She kept me focused because she understood that being a mother and trying to do well in school is tough but doable. Mrs. Grant gave me the tools I needed. I needed to stay focused and keep persevering until I achieved all the goals we set out to do,” she said. “She helped me feel confident in my public speaking class and to achieve my goal of getting an A. She gave me resources to help me write my resume to be successful in my career.She was very helpful and understanding.

Caldwell recommends the WIOA program especially to single moms who need help achieving their goals. “It’s a great program for getting help with retraining needs and getting gainful employment opportunities.”

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