Job Corps: Building lives and launching careers

By Emily Browder
UNC Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

In the new office of Job Corps located on Briggs Avenue near downtown Durham, Samantha Monroe sits quietly completing paperwork before her interview with an admissions counselor.

LaQuita Ballard, right, interviews Samantha Monroe, left, for potential admission into the Job Corps program. (Photo by Emily Browder)

LaQuita Ballard, right, interviews Samantha Monroe, left, for potential admission into the Job Corps program. (Photo by Emily Browder)

Monroe, 19, moved to Durham last September, unemployed and a high school drop-out. She first heard about the program from a friend who successfully completed

Job Corps and is now employed as a pharmacy technician. This sparked Monroe’s interest that perhaps Job Corps is the answer to getting her life back on track.

“I am looking forward to being stable and independent, and hopefully successful,” says Monroe. “Stability, especially in this economy, is very important and I want to be able to support myself and move out on my own. I think Job Corps is the way I am going to be able to do that.”

Dorothy McDowell, an outreach coordinator in North Carolina, explains that the Job Corps program offers low income young adults between the ages of 16 to 24 the opportunity to receive an education while being a part of the “Career Development Services System.”

The Job Corps admissions office in Durham sends approximately 100 students each year to centers across the East Coast. At the centers, the students work toward their high school diplomas or General Educational Development and specialize in an area of trade.

Anyone in the Durham area wishing to join the Job Corps program should contact LaQuita Ballard, an admissions counselor for Durham and Wake Counties.

“Job Corps gives these young adults hope for a brighter future,” says Ballard.  “They get excited about the program knowing they can go into it and do something for themselves. It’s a hands-on training program that encourages students to gain social skills, communication skills and independence they may not get from their home or high schools.”

Ballard explains that the organization is funded by the United States Department of Labor and is contracted to non-profit small businesses in each region to support Job Corps. The funding from the Department of Labor enables Job Corps of North Carolina to provide the students with free housing, transportation, meals/snacks, education, training in career areas and even an allowance every two weeks.

“I would advise any teenagers in the Durham area who maybe didn’t graduate from high school or just can’t find a job to do Job Corps,” says Monroe. “You really can’t beat it; they house you, give you food, medical care and everything for free. You get a college-level education that prepares you for the real world; you really can’t beat that.”

“Over 70 percent of students graduating from Job Corps secure a job in the area they trained in after the completion of the program,” says McDowell. “Job Corps gives young adults the chance to influence their own future by providing the education and career training needed to be successful, with no cost to the student.”

For more information or to set up a screening session call 1-800-733-JOBS.