Roswell Job Corps students prepare for graduation ceremonies at the Civic Center, Thursday. (Mark Wilson Pho to)
Roswell Job Corps Center graduates were encouraged to follow their dreams at a special ceremony at the Civic Center Thursday.
“You have to look deep inside yourselves. What do you really want in your lives, and be happy,” said business owner and program graduate Blanca Rios. “I encourage you all to follow your dream and don’t let nobody or nothing steal your dreams.”
Rios, who was born in Mexico and graduated from the Roswell program in 1984, later opened her own bridal and floral shop in Clovis. She delivered an inspiring message to the 64 graduates.
“I am not perfect. We learn every day and we learn by our mistakes,” Rios told them. “Never be ashamed of where you came from.”
After overcoming a personal struggle to learn English and realizing she was unable to have children, she opened a successful floral business. At first, she was not able to accept or understand the challenges in her life, she said.
“But I am older now. I understand how this happened,” Rios said. “Thank God for Job Corps. I love what I do.”
Success does not come overnight, she said.
“In this 18 years in business, it has taken a lot of work,” Rios said. “The thing is, never give up. I’ve always told myself, I’m not a quitter. I’m a winner.”
The Job Corps program offers bi-lingual students instructors who speak their language, said Rhonda Smith. The school values their culture and their first language, and at the same time, understands that teaching English is critical.
Keynote speaker City Councilor Jason Perry related a battle story to graduates.
“It only takes a small group of people determined to make a difference to affect thousands in a major way,” he said.
Smith complimented him on the story. Making a reference to the story, she said with enthusiasm that the city didn’t have an Army Corps, an Air corps or a Marine Corps — they had a Job Corps.
“This is not just another program, this is Job Corps,” Smith said.
The Character Counts! award was given to graduate Stephen Birdow of Richmond, Texas. Birdow completed the culinary arts and painting programs with high academic marks and will enter another degree program at a high educational institution in graphic design.
Job Corps is a no-cost education and career technical training program run by the U.S. Department of Labor for students 16 to 24. It provides career technical and academic training.