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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Inspiring Success Story: I-BEST Job Training Leads to Great Job for Deaf Student

“I’ve been using all of the skills I learned in my classes at LCC and really enjoy my job." ~ Chris Cayton, LCC graduate

Chris Cayton was a good worker, doing window tinting, and later package handling and training for Federal Express Ground, but he wanted more.

Chris built on his I-BEST Manufacturing
Occupations certificate with Welding and
Machine Trades degrees.
He wanted a college degree (his fiancĂ© has a bachelor’s degree) and a better job so he could support his son. It took the right college—Chris is deaf—and patience, but Chris got everything he was looking for, and more.

Chris lives in Vancouver, but chose LCC because friends told him LCC’s Welding Program was really good, with lots of personal attention from the instructors.

His friends were so right! “I was surprised,” he says. ”I got very nice help from Randy (Byrum), Allan (Evald) and Jim (Coyne). They helped me a lot, showing me how to weld.”

That personal attention was vital for Chris. He can carry on a good conversation, between lip-reading and his cochlear implant, which picks up and processes sounds, transmitting them to his inner ear. However, he needed a sign language interpreter in class, where he couldn’t always see the speaker’s face.

Extra Boost from I-BEST

LCC goes further, though. While Chris had attended the Washington State School for the Deaf and graduated from high school in California, his reading and math skills weren’t quite good enough to be successful.

The Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I-BEST) program provides an extra instructor who attends all certificate classes and helps students with their reading, math and other college skills. I-BEST is available for LCC’s Manufacturing Occupations, Health Occupations, Nursing Assistant, Early Childhood Education, and Business Technology—Administrative Support certificate programs.

LCC helped the state's community and technical colleges pioneer I-BEST, which has received national attention for helping students succeed in their job training programs.

Building on I-BEST Certificate 

Chris started with a one-year certificate in Manufacturing Occupations, and discovered that he really liked welding. “It’s fun, it’s hands-on, and I get to work independently.” He added a year of Welding classes to earn his Associate in Applied Science degree.

He plunged into college life and was especially active in the Welding Club, assisting with the high school welding competition, and helping to build sturdy steel hog pens for the county fairgrounds. A work-study employee, he also helped with various maintenance projects around campus.

When he graduated, the job market was still very poor, so he stayed on at LCC, adding a degree in Machine Trades.

Happy Results

It all paid off late last summer, when Plumbers and Steamfitters Union Local 290 hired him as an apprentice.

Chris is ecstatic. “I’ve been using all of the skills I learned in my classes at LCC and really enjoy my job. The money and benefits are great, and I’m getting between 50 and 60 hours a week. I couldn’t be happier.”

A special bonus: a baby daughter born in October.

For more information about I-BEST, contact Jill Yates.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Inspiring Success Story: I-TRANS Shaves a Year Off Mandy Pastor's Degree Plan

“With a student like me, there were no boundaries to how far I could go.
All the limits went out the window.”
~ Mandy Pastor

Mandy Pastor shows off the "chocolate chip
cookie" cover on her report on making your
work appealing.
Mandy Pastor is completing her AA Transfer Degree spring quarter—a year earlier than expected, thanks to I-TRANS, which pairs a multi-level English or Math course with another college course that puts students’ growing skills to use.

Starting at LCC the Fall of 2009, she got bad news when she took her placement tests.  

“They told me it would take me four years to get my transfer degree, including my pre-college English and math work.”

I-TRANS students progress at their own rate, getting extra help as they write essays and papers, prepare speeches, or do the specialized math for a science class. Not only do they progress at their own rate, but they can earn college credit before their English or math skills are at college level.
The I-TRANS format was perfect for Mandy, who struggles with ADHD. Going back and forth between the two related subjects helped her to stay interested and concentrate.
“With a student like me, there were no boundaries to how far I could go,” says Mandy. “All the limits went out the window.”

Mandy trimmed off a year in one quarter (Winter of 2010), advancing from English 065 to an A in English 101, while also earning Humanities I credit. She also did well in I-TRANS Math, earning MATH 099 and Physical Science 109 credit.

“I never understood math or science,” she says. In fact, it was her third try at Math 099. “When they put those two subjects together like that, something clicked! For the first time in my  life, I was enjoying and excelling in both subjects.”

Mandy graduates this spring, and will march in Commencement June 15 with several friends—and her own rooting section. Friends are another benefit of I-TRANS. Since students are taking two classes together, they grow close.

Next comes a teaching degree. She’s been accepted at her dream college, Mississippi State University (MSU), a couple hours from where she grew up. “They would never have accepted me if I had applied right out of high school.”

Mandy wants to teach junior high school. “That’s when I really fell through the cracks.”

For more information about I-TRANS, contact Jill Yates.