ACTC Project Accelerates Opportunity for Students

For the coming spring semester, Accelerating Opportunity project at Ashland Community and Technical College will again offer the Health Career courses that lead to the Basic Health Care Foundations certificate.

ACTC began offering this education and training project for students who were not college ready last spring and repeated the project in the summer session and this fall. To date, most of the participants have completed at least one college credential and are continuing on for an Associate Degree or other additional credentials.

This is a way for students who need extra support for college-level classes to get ready for a job in the shortest possible time, said Chrisha Spears, Accelerating Opportunity Project Coordinator. The certificate includes a State Registered Nurse Aid (SNRA) course, which makes the students eligible to take the state certifying exam.

The success of the Accelerating Opportunity grant funded project may be due to a new approach to Adult Basic Education. Basic math, reading and writing education is combined with technical skills training to prepare students for high-demand jobs. Students learn from two instructors who work together in the classroom one for basic skills and one for technical skills. .

Erin B. Chavez is one of the students who completed the summer program and earned the Basic Health Care Foundations certificate.

An Ashland resident and Paul G. Blazer High School 2008 graduate, she had several jobs after high school but wanted more for her daughter as well as herself. She started in Adult Education for tutoring to improve her college entrance exam scores. Then she met Spears and decided Accelerating Opportunity would be a way to further her education.

I didn't think I could do college work, but there is a wonderful support system here. Everyone wants to help you do your absolute best, she said. I achieved a lot in two and a half months. Taking medical terminology was fun, and I loved the clinicals at Woodland Oaks.

This fall Chavez has been taking general education courses at ACTC, and she plans to take the SRNA exam in December. She would like to continue on for a nursing degree and work in a hospital setting. I want my daughter to have a better life than I had, she said..

Our goal is to get students started on high-demand career programs that have stackable credentials, Spears said. They can simultaneously gain college-level skills and earn a certificate that qualifies them for an entry level job. Then they can go on for additional certificates that expand their job opportunities.

Im their Success Coach, Spears said. I am that go-to person on campus, a familiar face that students can turn to when they are lost or feeling overwhelmed. I give them the tools to solve their problems, and its up to them to use those tools. I want students to see their own potential and that they can be successful college students.

Rachel L Grubb, a Flatwoods resident and Russell High School 2009 graduate, has also used the Health Careers program as a way to improve her life. "After high school I got some jobs and basically gave up on getting more education. Then one day I realized that I didn't want to live day by day for the rest of my life, she said."

"To get into college, I needed help with math and even with Adult Education I wasn't happy with my math scores. Chrisha said she could help, and now here I am in class," Grubb said. "I'm happier now that I'm following my dream." She wants to get a nursing degree and specialize in pediatrics.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

To qualify for the Accelerating Opportunity project in the spring semester, adults need to be high school graduates or working towards a GED.

The best first step for people interested in getting ready for a good job in one semester is to contact me, Spears said. I can help them set up a testing appointment and get started on the admission process. Spring classes dont start until January 12, but December 29 is the ACTC application deadline, and applicants will need to complete their testing and orientation before they can register for class.

If I could say something to high school students who just want to get out of school, Id say dont stop now, because you'll lose your focus and then one day reality will hit you in the face, Grubb said. Accelerating Opportunity is a great program with awesome teachers, and you can achieve more than you thought possible.

For information about participating in the program, contact Spears at 606-326-2425 or email: chrisha.spears@kctcs.edu.

The core partners of Accelerating Opportunity in Kentucky are the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, Kentucky Adult Education and the Kentucky Office of Employment and Training. Grant information is at aoky.kctcs.edu.