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EXETER—A year or more of hard work has finally paid off for Exeter Job Corps Academy graduates this past weekend as they were deservedly handed their high school diplomas or career technical certifications. State and local representatives gathered to give encouragement and hope to the students who will now add to the next generation of business leaders.
“Don’t let headlines about a slow rebounding economy deter you from following your dreams,” said Sen. Catherine Cool Rumsey (Dist. 34—Charlestown, Exeter, Hopkinton, Richmond, West Greenwich). “There is something wonderful out there for you.”
“Always believe in yourself,” she added.
Other state officials to speak included Rep. Larry Valencia (Dist. 39—Richmond, Exeter, Hopkinton) and U.S. Congressman James Langevin, as well as Guy Natelli, chair of the Exeter Job Corps Academy Industry Council. More than 60 students received recognition this past Saturday, and student speaker
Ashley Diaz urged her fellow classmates to continue on the path of hard work to which they have been committed over the past year.
“Even though there were really a lot of obstacles that we went through, we all did it and are all succeeding little by little,” said Diaz, who also received a scholarship for performance arts. “I used to be the person who never finished what I started, so when I came here, I thought I would never finish this.”
“A year later, I have my high school diploma and education,” she added.
Exeter Job Corps Academy executive director Jason Menard also gave encouraging words to the students he has helped shape into responsible business people. Earlier this year, a Job Corps students took top honors in the Third Annual Rhode Island Prostart Culinary Competition, winning a share of over $300,000 in scholarship monies for participating and winning in a number of business and culinary arts categories.
The Exeter Job Corps Academy, which opened in 2004, currently enrolls approximately 200 students, aged 16 to 24, who receive free job training in a number of fields, such as hospitality, manufacturing, and healthcare. At the Exeter Town Council’s April meeting, Councilman Calvin Ellis praised the work of the Exeter branch, lauding its efforts in turning students into successful workers and business leaders.
“They have a great advanced culinary program, drawing people from all over the country, [and] they are heavily into skills development and job placement,” said Councilman Calvin Ellis. “These people are helping students to find those jobs, and we are so grateful for the work that they are doing.”
“The fact they are number four in the country is something that really needs to be emphasized,” he added. “All kinds of good things are happening there.”