ECWDB Success Stories

Workforce Development is all about helping to create successful individuals and successful businesses.

Providing Opportunities to Veterans

Brian Dandridge : Veteran Success Story

On Feb 4, 2021, Brian Dandridge came into the Duplin County NCWorks Career Center for job search assistance and career guidance.  Melvin Sabillon, CSR, assisted Mr. Dandridge with registering into and referred him to Carla Whaley, Career Advisor, for additional services.

Carla assisted Brian with job searching and explained the services offered through the Career Center. He told Carla he was currently homeless and unemployed. He had worked as a swine farmer for seventeen years and lost his housing upon resigning his position.

Brian’s experience working with swine lagoons inspired him to enroll in the Combined Biological Waste Water Operator I and II class at James Sprunt Community College. Carla instructed Brian to update his resume to showcase his work history and enrollment in the Waste Water class. Carla learned Mr. Dandridge was a Disabled Naval Veteran. She explained the NCWorks Veteran’s Program to Brian and contacted Zackary Branch, Disabled Veteran Outreach Program Specialist (DVOP) for Duplin County, to request his assistance with Mr. Dandridge, as well.

 Zackary began working with Brian on Feb 23, 2021 and referred him to several openings within the surrounding area.  Mr. Branch also contacted Charles Lee with the Veterans Services of the Carolinas-Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program (HVRP).  After enrolling in HVRP, the program paid for Brian to test and receive his Waste Water Treatment Plant I certification.

 Mr. Dandridge continued to receive services from the Duplin County Career Center. Charliss Gwynn, Career Advisor, joined the team focused on assisting with his job search. Charliss found a position with the City of Jacksonville and the Pender County Utilities – Water Department Division. She shared the information with Carla who immediately called Brian with application instructions.  Brian promptly submitted a Pender County application and was soon scheduled to interview.  After completing the interview Mr. Dandridge was extended a job offer with Pender County Utilities starting on May 17, 2021. 

 The NCWorks Career Center continues to assist Brian with locating affordable housing. Zachary Branch (DVOP) referred Brian to Volunteers of America and Charliss Gwynn referred him to the Homeless Emergency Solutions Grant operated by Greene Lamp Community Action.

Kara Thomas

NCWorks Helping Job Seekers

Kara Thomas : Adult Success Story

In March 2021, Kara Thomas utilized our AWS to request referrals for positions with two local municipalities posted in NCWorks. Kara and Eileen McGaughey met via telephone to complete her NCWorks registration including setting up virtual recruiter and completing her requested referrals. Kara’s situation was unique so she and Eileen spent time discussing how to manage the application and interview process.

About a week after their initial meeting, Kara called with great news-she had two interviews scheduled for early April. Kara and Eileen met to strategize and plan for her interviews, also reviewing Kara’s career portfolio. 

Kara worked her plan and on April 12 called Eileen to share the wonderful news-she was offered and accepted a position with Pamlico County!

Lateesha Taylor

Connecting Job Seekers with Employers

Lateesha Taylor : Adult Success Story

Lateesha Taylor is a Chapter 31 referral John received in January and immediately began working with her to find part time employment that suited her specific needs. She desired to stay local and had specific considerations that determined her ability to work. John has been working with her on her resume and provided resources outside of Career Services that could assist her in other ways.

John submitted a referral for a part time position with Blue Arbor Staffing for a part time position with NCWorks as a receptionist. Lateesha was offered the position 4/26/2021 and began work on 5/3/2021. John will continue to monitor her progress and provide assistance if needed.

Sharika Lender

WIOA Helps LCC Grad Follow Her Passion

Sharika Lender : Adult Success Story

Sharika Lender of Kinston was a single mother making minimum wage to make ends meet to provide for her family when she enrolled in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Adult Program at Lenoir Community College. 

The WIOA program, through the NCWorks Career Center, was established to assist adults and dislocated workers in retraining and obtaining employment and it offers a mix of employment, training, and job placement services. Participants may access individual training accounts to assist with tuition, fees, books, supplies, and accident insurance.

Lender had a passion and love for teaching children and was working part-time at daycare centers and would volunteer at after-school facilities to gain experience. 

She was enrolled in Early Childhood Education at LCC working towards earning an associate degree. During her courses, she struggled with completing her required math for the program. Lender was juggling working at Greene Lamp, raising her daughter, and trying to complete her coursework online. With the weight of all her responsibilities, her grades began to slip. 

“I became overwhelmed with the coursework and not being able to keep up. I began to doubt myself and was unsure if I would reach my goal of earning my degree.” Lender leaned on her WIOA Counselor, Ika Grant for guidance on how to be successful in the program.

“I suggested Sharika receive tutoring or extra help from her instructor when she began struggling with the class. I worked with Sharika to establish better study habits and to help her better manage her time with all her responsibilities,” Grant said.  

Lender began to prioritize her schoolwork and scheduled time for extra studying. She received encouragement from her friends and Greene Lamp work family.  Her co-workers tutored her in math, a subject she was struggling with and she graduated in July 2019. While enrolled in WIOA, she received numerous certifications, a diploma, and an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Early Childhood Education She worked as an EDU Care Lead Teacher for Greene Lamp until February 28, 2020 and is now working Embracing Kids Child Care Services, LLC. 

“With faith, encouragement and support, I did what I needed to do for my family and myself. I'm forever grateful for my teachers and Mrs. Ika Grant at LCC. Never give up and always keep God first.”  

For more information on the WIOA Program, contact Samara Taft, Director of WIOA Title I Programs/ NCWorks Career Center Manager, at or (252) 527-6223, ext. 111.

Source: Neuse News


WIOA Helped Elijah Reach His Goal

Elijah : Adult Success Story

When Elijah of Kinston came to Lenoir Community College (LCC), he knew exactly what he wanted to do, but needed assistance in making his goal a reality. He was working in customer service at a call center at the time. His goal was to enroll in Truck Driver Training and obtain his CDL and start a career in the truck driving industry.

“Elijah and I met at LCC NCWorks Career Center as he was asking about the CDL class,” said Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) Youth Counselor Tracey Price said. “After a few questions, I determined he was eligible for assistance through WIOA, a program that assist youth ages 16-24 that qualify for assistance with schooling, training, and finding employment.”

Price said Elijah was highly motivated and eager to complete the necessary required steps for WIOA Youth Program. Truck Driver Training was scheduled to begin in March 2020. “We assisted him with DOT physical and other requirements for the class. He also signed up for National Career Readiness Certification (NCRC),” she said.

Elijah practiced in the lab at LCC and from home online. He took the exam and scored a silver certificate. He was ready for his class, then COVID-19 happened. “While we were all learning how to navigate through this unusual time, I stayed in contact with Elijah and asked for his patience. He was very understanding,” Price said.

That patience paid off. By the end of June 2020, the class had been rescheduled and he was back on track. Price said Elijah was a little intimidated at first. “I explained to him that was completely normal and through WIOA, guidance and counseling are also provided along with tutoring if needed. He quickly grew comfortable in the class and progressed very well. WIOA provided support services as needed to help Elijah be successful in his training.”

Elijah successfully completed his training and obtained his CDL in August 2020. Though WIOA’s incentive program, he also received a $50 Wal-Mart gift card for meeting his goal and attaining a credential. The WIOA Youth Program also aids in job search, creating resumes, and interviewing skills. In October, Elijah was successful in finding full-time employment at Smithfield Hog Production as a truck driver. He completed his training period there and now works night shift.

“I am so grateful for all the help I have received,” Elijah said. “Through WIOA, I was able to reach my goal and my dream job as a trucker. I recommend LCC and WIOA to anyone that needs a little help reaching their goals too.”

For more information on the WIOA Program, contact Samara Taft, Director of WIOA Title I Programs/ NCWorks Career Center Manager, at or (252) 527-6223, ext. 111.

Source: Neuse News


Brianna Jones

LCC grad Brianna Jones lands dream job with WIOA assistance

Brianna Jones : Adult Success Story

Brianna Jones of Greene County was working as a waitress and getting by with the help of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). She was working as a waitress and was supporting herself with the tips she made from working four to five nights a week.

She began her education at Lenoir Community College with hopes to enter into the Radiography program. During her admissions process, she completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) but was ineligible to receive Pell Grant, which led her seek help from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Adult Program.

The WIOA program, through the NCWorks Career Center, was established to assist adults and dislocated workers in retraining and obtaining employment and it offers a mix of employment, training, and job placement services. Participants may access individual training accounts to assist with tuition, fees, books, supplies, and accident insurance.

WIOA supplied Jones with the uniforms needed for the various clinical sites she would visit. During the program, her WIOA counselor assisted her in finding an externship at Vidant Hospital as a Student Radiologic Technician, with hopes of it turning in to full time employment upon graduation.

Jones suffered from narcolepsy, which made focusing for extended periods of time difficult due to exhaustion. Her WIOA Counselor supplied her with supplemental study information to ensure her success in the program.

“I am forever grateful for the WIOA program and the staff at LCC for guiding me in the right direction and helping me stay on top of my studies in the program.”

During her time in the program, Jones endured hardships in her personal life that began to affect her grades. She realized she needed to reduce work hours at her waitressing job so that she could focus on her studies and her externship. She was working 16 hours every other weekend for her externship at the hospital as well as picking up call whenever asked.

In March of 2020, COVID-19 affected Jones’ clinical sites for her program as well as causing her hours at work to reduce. With the reduction of clinical hours, she was worried she would not meet her required hours needed to graduate in May. LCC began to run mock clinical sites so the students would be able to meet their requirements for the state exam so students could obtain their license.

Jones completed the program despite the obstacles she faced along the way with a 3.0 grade point average. With the help of WIOA covering the cost of her American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (AART) exam, she was able to pass the exam to obtain her license.

She accepted a full-time position making $15 an hour locally while also still working her externship at Vidant. In August, Jones’ externship led her to landing a full-time position as a Vascular Interventional Tech position at Vidant making $25.41 an hour.

“With the help of Mrs. Ika Grant, paying for school was no longer a worry and allowed me to focus more on school, which ultimately led to graduation and landing a job exactly where I wanted to be. Without WIOA, there is no doubt I wouldn’t have been able to finish school,” she said.

“The WIOA program helped me to worry less about tuition cost so that I was able to apply myself fully to my studies. I would encourage anyone who is looking to further their education but unable to cover the cost to reach out to the WIOA program at Lenoir Community College, it truly changed my life.”

Source: Neuse News

For more information on the WIOA Program, contact Samara Taft, Director of WIOA Title I Programs/ NCWorks Career Center Manager, at ( or (252) 527-6223, ext. 111.

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