When 46-year-old Alice Torrence decided to go back to school, she gave up her job to earn her high school diploma. Then she realized, “Why stop now?” Her first accomplishment had whetted her appetite for more.
Her timing couldn’t have been better. In February 2014, the college joined forces with Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina to create the Access Center program, which enables students in Forsyth Tech’s Adult High School program to take professional Job Training and Certification courses.
She enrolled in Triad Community Kitchen, a 325-hour culinary skills-training program provided through Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest North Carolina. It’s one of a number of healthcare, business, computer information technology and technical programs the Access Center offers to nontraditional students like Alice.
What makes this innovative new program a standout?
- Students take free online courses through Forsyth Tech’s Adult High School program.
- They can earn Job Training Certification and Continuing Education credits at the same time they work toward their high school diplomas.
- Forsyth Tech instructors teach the skills classes, held at Goodwill’s 2701 University Parkway location.
- The Access Center’s full-time career coach, Andrew Ward, gives students free one-on-one counseling to help them choose a path leading to a credential. He also assists with job placement.
- Goodwill offers scholarships covering tuition costs for skills-training classes to students who qualify.
“I explain to students they should think of our program and the Access Center as a unit. The Center is one piece of the Adult High School program,” says Shannon Stanley, coordinator of the Adult High School and Transitional programs. She’s excited about what it’s achieved so far.
It’s certainly helped Alice find the ingredients for success. She’s now preparing to open an event planning business that will allow her to show off her mouth-watering specialties, such as white wine cake and chicken marsala. “I would encourage students to take advantage of all the Access Center has to offer,” she recommends. “I’m forever grateful.”