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HOPE program honors second graduating class
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Nine students graduated from Patrick Henry Community College’s HOPE program Thursday at The Artisan Center. Graduates were (front row, from left) Sharon Barker, Breonna Beam, Michael Bryan, Rebecca Bryant, (back, from left) Robert “Bobby” Kirby, Quiana Perkins, Walter Puckett, Sherman Thomas and Shavonna Warren. (Contributed photo)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Nine area residents were recognized Thursday at The Artisan Center as graduates of this summer’s High-Demand Occupational Programs for Employment (HOPE) initiative cohort, a program of Patrick Henry Community College’s Workforce Development and Continuing Education department.

Graduates from the customer service sequence included Sharon Barker of Martinsville; Rebecca Bryant of Fieldale; Quiana Perkins of Martinsville; and Shavonna Warren of Bassett. Graduates from the food service sequence included Breonna Beam of Martinsville; Michael Bryan of Bassett; Robert “Bobby” Kirby of Martinsville; Walter Puckett of Ridgeway; and Sherman Thomas of Martinsville.

Students received diplomas for completing the 12-week course. Coursework included classroom assignments and an internship in one of the following area businesses: City of Martinsville utilities; Classy Consignments; ICF; Faneuill; Daily Grind; Bassett Country Club; Biscuitville; Dutch Inn; or Daniel’s Family Restaurant.

PHCC’s Rhonda Hodges, dean of the Workforce Development and Continuing Education department, said the graduates should be proud of their accomplishments.

“We set up the HOPE program very similar to the real-world workplace environment, with the same standards that employers would have,” she said. “So it’s been an intense 12-week period that these students have completed. It’s not been easy. It’s been tough, I’m sure, but they’ve worked hard and accomplished something that will help set them apart from the crowd.”

Justin Altice, the food service director at Bassett Country Club, came away impressed by Bryan, who interned at BCC and recently accepted a position there as chef-in-training.

“For a young person wanting to get into the food service industry, this program is fantastic,” Altice said of HOPE. “Michael showed a lot of motivation and hard work, and he fit right in from day one.”

Of the nine graduates, five already have been hired by local businesses. Additionally, two customer service alums received their Internet Computing Core Certification while enrolled in the program, and four food service graduates earned their Serv-Safe Managers certifications. Overall, eight of the nine students left the program with a Career Readiness Certificate, which recognizes skills in reading for information, applied math and locating information - the three skills that most jobs require.

The goal of HOPE is to identify job growth areas within the PHCC service region and engage those businesses in a four-phase approach to improving the workforce through short-term training. Those phases are creating business and industry leadership teams, developing training programs, placing students in internships and striving for continuous improvement of the program.

The program addressed a variety of soft skills that can be applied to any industry: pre-employment preparation, workforce readiness, business communications, life skills, teamwork, Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT), character education and an introduction to computers.

Internships for students in the customer service curriculum totaled 40 hours, while food service internships lasted 80 hours. 


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