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Hemelt: College & career options still available for those short their high school diploma

Lei Lani Michel grew up in Reserve, has worked as a teacher for 20 years, specialized in adult education for the last four and focused her efforts at River Parishes Community College – Reserve Campus for the last two.

There may be no one more connected to the gap between the under-educated and their opportunity for growth.

Michel is a WorkReady U Transition Coordinator/Instructor, and it’s her goal to open doors for those who didn’t finish high school or need a little refresher in order to succeed in the profession of their choosing.

“We’re all from here, know the area and know there is so much opportunity for people who want to improve their situation,” Michel said. “We are here to help. People are nervous about coming back. Life happens and they are afraid. The first step is the hardest. We want people to feel like we work at your pace. We help you and provide all of the support from one place to another.”

Michel and the rest of the college’s WorkReady U team invites the community to a free open house from 9:30 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. Tuesday at the college campus on the corner of Regala Park Road and Airline Highway in Reserve.

River Parishes Community College offers GED classes, resume writing instruction and computer basics like keyboarding. They are open to students as young as 16 and up to any age. Cost isn’t an issue, as the program works on a $25 a year fee and includes the ability to waive those charges for approved hardship designations.

The main challenges remain awareness for those in need and the fear factor involved in reaching out for additional education.

“We really encourage that it’s never too late to get your degree,” Michel says. “All of our classes work with the person on areas they need to improve and prepare to take the test. We also have scholarships, where people can take classes at RPCC and work on their GED at the same time. That way, they can move ahead in their careers. The classes can be in welding, HVAC, industrial maintenance, drafting, medical assistant and business office administration programs.”

Program coordinator William McGee Jr. has been teaching in the GED field for 20 years and brings a positive approach to one-on-one student interactions.

Having Campus Dean Penelope Schumaker as a great supporter of the program is a tremendous benefit, as well, Michel said.

“Our program helps people improve their skills and reach their goals,” Michel said. “We mostly serve those who want to finish their high school diploma, but we also have classes in computer basics and writing resumes.”

If you want to learn more — for yourself or someone you care about — call 985-536-4418, ext. 265, or simply stop by next week’s open house.

Stephen Hemelt is publisher and editor of L’OBSERVATEUR. He can be reached at 985-652-9545 or stephen.hemelt@lobservateur.com.