Organization Helping in Young Adults’ Career Readiness

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EDINBURG – Young adults around the Rio Grande Valley are tapping into a Job Corps program to gain the skills necessary to build long-term careers.

Twenty-one-year-old Johnathon Garza, of Edinburg, is taking a major step in the direction of his dreams. He plans on enrolling in courses at the Gary Job Corps Center in San Marcos to begin training as a pharmacy technician.

“I’m looking for another opportunity to have a better future for not only me but the others around me,” he said.

Garza says his teenage years started like any other. He says playing basketball and handing out with friends was his life.

Everything changed when his father died from diabetes.

“He was that big help with basketball and always telling me, ‘You go to pass. You got to do this,’ and it kind of went down,” he said.

Garza said it was difficult for him to refocus his life following the passing of his dad, and wasn’t able to find a stable job after graduation.

Angela Torres, outreach and admission department supervisor at the Gary Job Corps Center, says they can help.

“In young adults that want to get out into the workforce and are lacking it, this is their step up to do it,” she tells CHANNEL 5 NEWS.  

Torres says they help young adults like Garza get into the program and prepare them for the real world.

The center offers vocational and academic courses to more than 1,600 young people, ages 16 to 24, from around the U.S.

 “We base our vocations on the labor market, what is in demand at this moment” she explains.

It all comes at no cost, she says. The U.S. Department of Labor covers expenses for room, board and travel.

Torres says students have up to two years to complete a training program. She says some even complete two certifications in that span.

“Some of them just want one trade and come back. They can do it in nine to 12 months, but others want to get as much as they can and come out with more,” she says.  

It takes about four to six weeks from the time you complete your applications to step foot on campus.

Torres says they know transitioning to life outside the Valley can be difficult.

“We do have a lot of assistance there for the students to get past all those issues. We have a lot of support, counselors there on the campus, residential advisors that are in the dormitory there with the students,” she said.

Garza admits he’s nervous but said he’s motivated to prove those who’ve doubted him wrong.

“I want to prove to them that, you know, with that circumstance that we did have with my father, that things are possible,” he said, “that we still got to move forward, you know, continue in our daily life.”

Garza says he is looking forward to a change of circumstance and scenery.

Those interested in the Gary Job Corps can apply online or in person by visiting one of several Workforce Solutions centers across the Valley.

Admission officials say they consider household income and age when making decisions.

Applicants should be between the ages of 16 and 24, though some exceptions are made in special circumstances.

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