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Refugee students earn trade certificates, high school diplomas simultaneously

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The IRC in Atlanta’s Connect to Success (C2S) program provides holistic support to refugee youth and young adults aged 16 to 24 who are not enrolled in school to help them to reach their education and career goals. Since the program’s launch in fall 2016, our partnership with the Earle C. Clements Job Corps Center in Morganfield, Kentucky has been invaluable in helping our students to overcome barriers and fulfill their potential.

Job Corps is a no-cost, self-paced, residential education and career technical training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor that helps young people achieve their goals through career technical and academic training. So far, 21 C2S students have enrolled in the Earle C. Clements Job Corp Center, which offers an English as a Second Language program alongside its high school diploma and trade certificate programs.

21-year-old Nai, one of our first C2S clients, recently returned from the Job Corps Center after 18 months. During his time there, Nai earned his high school diploma, trade certificates in Network Cable Installation, Office Administration and Computer Tech, and even his driver’s license! Nai was an exemplary student, achieving the coveted “Platinum Level” which comes with perks like more private dorms. He also served as an informal C2S ambassador, welcoming new refugee students when they arrived at the center and helping them to adjust to their new routine.

Picture of star student Nai during his time at Job Corps in Kentucky.

Star student Nai during his time at Job Corps in Kentucky.

IRC's Youth Program Supervisor, Ayaz Ahmed, and Youth Academic Specialist, Sharita Khatiwada, travelled to Kentucky in November 2018 to connect with C2S students and formalize the IRC’s partnership with Job Corps. The C2S team now have monthly check-ins with Job Corps teachers and counselors to discuss progress and needs of IRC clients to ensure they are fully supported throughout their stay, and as they transition back to Atlanta and work on next steps—whether securing employment, pursuing an apprenticeship, or applying for college!

Current C2S Job Corps students with IRC youth team members, Ayaz Ahmed and Sharita Khatiwada, in Kentucky.

11 C2S students are currently enrolled in Job Corps, pursuing certificates including Welding, Electrical, Certified Nursing Assistant, Medical Office Assistant, and Culinary, and four more students will join them shortly. After returning from Job Corps, Nai worked with Ayaz to search for jobs and quickly secured employment at a global tech company, installing software and helping to manage their inventory. Nai also plans to continue his education and with nine college credits earned during his time at Job Corps—he’s off to a strong start!

To learn more about the work of the IRC in Atlanta and for information on how you can get involved with the IRC as a donor or volunteer, please contact Development Manager, Kalie Lasiter, at  or 678-636-8941.

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