Allegany County United Way
Wellsville, New York
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Hard work makes a dream come true

Kevin* dropped out of high school after 9th grade. He tried to get work so he could support himself, but he had no training, no experience and no high school diploma.

He enrolled in Literacy West’s Career Pathways program with very low self-esteem not believing in his own abilities. But Kevin did have one dream, and that was to get his High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED) and then get training to be a heavy equipment operator.

His initial Tests of Adult Basic Education (TABE) scores were low, especially in math. But he came every day and worked hard. He also enrolled in a 10-hour OSHA Certification class. He passed that and was now OSHA Certified. He then entered a National Work Readiness Credential (NWRC) Class. It was a six week course with a difficult test at the end, which he passed. Teachers and staff encouraged him to give himself credit for every little gain he made.

He continued to work hard toward his goal to achieve his HSED. He would ask for extra work and even started offering help to his peers that seemed to be struggling. Between the extra work and helping tutor his peers his self-esteem began to grow.

After another couple of months Kevin tested again and made a huge gain in not only his math but his reading. He made enough gain that he could now start classes for the Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC). He was now truly on his way to obtain his HSED. His entire attitude changed. He was more confident and he came in to class with a smile on his face where he once wore a constant frown.

He continued to work diligently in all of his classes. He would be seen in the class still working on a paper, while his peers were out on break. He began TASC classes once a week and he did struggle when it came to the math. He almost gave up. But the staff wouldn’t let him. They offered extra help whenever they could. Then one of his peers that he had helped previously payed it forward to Kevin. He took Kevin under his wing and started tutoring him. Together they worked on the math that seemed to discourage Kevin. What one didn’t understand in their studies the other would. Eventually Kevin gained the math skills that were holding him back.

He took the two-day TASC to obtain his high school diploma. He was afraid he would fail. During the test there were times he felt confident, but some things made him worry. And he passed!

Now one part of his dream was complete, now onto part two. He was enrolled into the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) youth on-the-job training program and was placed at the town barns in his home town. He learned how to operate heavy equipment and what town workers do on a daily basis. He applied for Heavy Equipment Operator Training, was accepted and now attends those classes every Saturday. He continues his on-the-job training and has a bright future ahead of him for being fully employed and financially self-sufficient.

Allegany County United Way is pleased to provide support the Career Pathways program.

*Name changed to protect identity.