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Local students honored by congressman

June 19, 2011

Jonathan Travelyn of Westerly and Congressman Jim Langevin.

WAKEFIELD-- Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) was the keynote speaker at a ceremony celebrating the 2011 graduates of the Education Exchange, an adult education center in South County. More than 90 graduates were recognized at an event at the Prout School in Wakefield for receiving their GEDs through the Education Exchange GED Testing Center as well as the Education Exchange GED Preparation classes. Established in 1978 as the Washington County Adult Learning Center, the Education Exchange is a non-profit organization providing literacy programs and GED preparation and testing for adults in southern Rhode Island. It offers courses at sites in Wakefield, Westerly and North Kingstown.

"From my own personal and professional life, I know the value of patience and perseverance - and I have great respect for your dedication," Langevin said. "You have successfully juggled the program's requirements with the demands of your everyday lives, and many of you have overcome great obstacles to be here today. Throughout my life, I have also learned that there is no challenge too great to overcome if you want something badly enough. The time and effort you've spent to reach this point will only drive you to further develop the talents and skills that have gotten you this far."

In his remarks, the Congressman also commented on the importance of education and vocational training in developing a talented and skilled workforce that will make the state a frontrunner in innovative industries. Langevin, who serves as co-chair for the bipartisan Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus, has made affordable and accessible educational opportunities a top priority. He joined the caucus with the goal of developing a workforce that is highly skilled in cutting edge fields of the 21st century, such as biotechnology, renewable energy and cybersecurity.

"In order to strengthen the pipeline for these jobs, we need to engage all of our state's schools, businesses, universities and other invested partners in a common goal," Langevin said at the graduation. "Rhode Island's students must be trained for the jobs available in our state, and our businesses must work with our schools to ensure they are communicating what skills they need to fill their job openings."

Langevin believes the Education Exchange has an important role to play in addressing this issue by tailoring its programs to the skills that best suit our economy. The organization serves as the only official GED testing site in the region and prepares workers to succeed through college preparatory courses, computer skills training and career readiness programs.

Earlier in the week, the Congressman made a series of stops at Quonset Business Park to discuss ways to better prepare students for future positions in growing Rhode Island industries. He heard from companies, such as high-tech pool equipment manufacturer Hayward Industries, which would benefit from better cooperation between educational institutions and business organizations.

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