Ottumwa Job Corps, giving young adults a second chance

Job Corps. Itâ??s a name many have heard before but a place not many have seen.

The common misconceptions of those that attend Job Corps are that they are all criminals or gang members. However, a criminal history makes someone ineligible to attend.

â??I was homeless, had a bunch of dead end jobs â??not much going on in life,â?? said Christian Woods, Job Corps student.

â??I dropped out of high school when I was 16 and I waited too long so I couldn't go back,â?? said Kirstin James, Job Corps student.

â??I was a slacker pretty much. I didn't really do anything,â?? said Daâ??Neeka Tasco, Job Corps student.

â??Mostly nothing â??just sitting around hanging out with friends â?? nothing really productive,â?? said Elijah Markworth, Job Corps student.

Struggle, hunger, and homelessness; this was the life for a lot of young adults before they joined Job Corps. Now their lives are taking a turn and this time, for the best.

â??This person had the presence of mind you know to say Iâ??m not staying in this situation and then coming here. I mean, they're my heroes,â?? said Connie Wilson, Job Corps Instructor.

Job Corps provides the tools and classes for students to gain the skills needed to go out and get a job in the real world. They can choose from anywhere to material handling to LPN for nursing. Many of their students also attend Indian Hills where Job Corps offers a number of their classes.

Job Corps is funded by the government which means the students attending donâ??t have to pay one penny.

The Job Corps campus feels similar to what a college campus may feel like with residential living facilities and a recreation center.

Students usually stay for about six months to two years.

â??And you come here and you start to get that structured system for them and you start to see the transitions and you're like â??wow maybe this is what's best for me, you know, Iâ??m bettering myself is doing soâ??,â?? said Nathan Miller, Personal Counselor at Job Corps.

â??Iâ??m going to go to Indian Hills Community College and I'm going to get my CDC Diesel Power Systems Technology Degrees and a Welding Degree,â?? said Woods.

â??I hope to be an RN at a nursing home,â?? said James.

â??I want to be an RN working in a hospital with babies, hopefully,â?? said Tasco.

â??My college classes start May 29. Iâ??m doing Electrical and Renewable Energy,â?? said Markworth.

A year ago these young adults didnâ??t have the same goals for their lives as they do now. Through Job Corps, they discovered that they do have what it takes to succeed.

Currently there are about 150 students enrolled at the Ottumwa Job Corps campus and by summer the program hopes to be at full capacity at around 300 students.