By Davin Whatley
The Work4College program is still expected to take place this summer. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has altered most of NTCC’s spring semester, students who are looking to be involved in this year’s summer program should still be able to participate while obeying social distancing procedures.
Dr. Jon McCullough, NTCC’s executive vice president for advancement, said if circumstances change, then everything would be reevaluated after May 15. As of right now, the plan is for the summer program to start June 8. He said the college has already planned ways for students to work in safe environments such as the farm, campus maintenance and painting.
“These are all jobs that we can isolate students for social distancing purposes,” McCullough said. “I hope we don’t have to do that, but if we do, we’re set up for that. We know a lot of people have lost their job right now, especially student workers, so we’re hoping to be able to provide job opportunities for many students this summer and, in addition, allow them to earn money to pay toward their tuition fees and start paying off their college.”
McCullough said even though people may be allowed near each other again, there will still be challenges to consider as student workers ease back into normalcy.
“A lot of people will be very timid, or very reserved and scared,” McCullough said. “We’re hoping to use this as a safety transition program to get them back into the workforce, get them back into college but do it under a monitored circumstance where we can kind of control it and help ease some of their fears and transition them back into work and to college.”
In the past, the Work4College program has helped the students involved learn skills and qualities that can assist them in accomplishing their goals.
Lynda Cruzgoo, an NTCC student receiving her associate degree in automotive technology, spent a semester in the Work4College program after serving eight years in the Army.
“Everything that we did through the program was tremendous help for students who are new to living on their own,” Cruzgoo said. “The classes and everything that was taught during the program are very essential for their future, and is very important for them to know.”
Cruzgoo said that one of her favorite parts of the program was meeting the sponsors.
“To meet the sponsors, the people who paid for our classes and basically paid for us to be there was amazing,” Cruzgoo said. “Just to see how helpful people are, how giving they are is just amazing.”
Brent Garret, a former Work4College student, said the program helped him grow as a leader and gave him real world experiences such as working alongside others. He said the program has also given him the motivation to join the Army.
“The program helped me learn how to work,” Garrett said. “It kind of is like my first actual job in a sense. I want to be a leader, I want to make a difference and that’s why I want to join the Army. “I feel like everything I’ve done with the Work4College program has given me motivation to want to help others and to work hard.”
For students who are in need of a job and are concerned about paying for classes, both Cruzgoo and Garrett agreed that the Work4College program is an opportunity that should be taken advantage of.
“Anybody who I have heard talk about they are having issues with their debt, their loans or something like that, I always tell them to do the Work4College program, it’s awesome,” Cruzgoo said. “It shows them that hard work and dedication with perseverance can get you places.”
Over the past six summers the program has provided students the ability to pay for their education while giving back to the college. Participants in the program have worked in different areas of the campus including Student Services, the Eagle Ranch and Plant Services.
In addition to preventing student debt, students are taught work ethic, leadership skills, community service and time and financial management skills. The privately-funded program has been successful enough that other schools in the state have become interested in trying to replicate this at their own universities.
For more information on the Work4College program, follow their Facebook page or contact McCullough at email@example.com.