ECWDB Success Stories

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

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.

Cheryle Melton

Never Give Up

Cheryle Melton : Success Story

Mrs. Cheryle Melton's story is one of courage, perseverance, and hope. In 2018, she was suddenly without work as the company she had worked for for over 10 years was forced into massive layoffs. Instead of giving up, Cheryle took this opportunity to further her education and give herself a better opportunity to achieve her dreams. Cheryle discovered the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs through NCWorks representatives and found out that these programs would provide funds and resources that would allow her to go to school. In addition to this, the Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA) would continue to pay Cheryle's unemployment check after it stopped coming in. After Cheryle successfully qualified for these programs and took her placement exams, she began going to class for her Office Administration Degree. Due to the programs from NCWorks, Cheryle was able to focus completely on her education, without financial worries hanging over her. 

Cheryle thrived in the academic environment. Her dedication, effort, and hard work payed off in amazing ways. She maintained a 4.0 GPA through all 4 semesters and earned certificates in both Office Administration and Microsoft Applications Proficiency. She was also awarded the "2020 Outstanding Student of the Office Administration Curriculum" award. Besides the accolades for her accomplishments, Cheryle also discovered her passion for tutoring other students during this time. Cheryle told us, "I will forever be grateful for the Trade Adjustment Assistance, Trade Readjustment Allowance, and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act programs. If not for these programs and the two special ladies who helped me through this journey, I never would have gone back to college. Gina Colie and Catherine Stickles believed in me, allowing me to believe in myself." Cheryle is now working at Wayne Community College in two part-time positions, one as a professional tutor and the other as a health screening technician. She continues to pursue her dreams, and we wish her the best in her journey. 


NextGen Youth Program

James : Youth Success Story

James was in an automobile accident when he was 9 years old and lost his leg. He wanted to work and find a career in which he could make a difference, but due to his disability, it was painful to stand for long periods of time. James was working two manufacturing jobs when he enrolled in the NextGen Youth program at Lenoir Community College in Kinston, NC in February 2018.


After career counseling, including a review of labor market information and career assessments, James decided he wanted to enroll in Nursing. He suffered from memory issues from the accident, so he was worried about how successful he would be in the program.  He decided that he would go through the continuing education healthcare career pathway and enrolled in Nursing Assistant I (NAI).  James had trouble passing the skills exam and he paid out of pocket with the money he was earning at a paid work experience (WEX) site through the program, and retook the NAI class. He passed the written and skills exam and became certified. James’ WEX worksite at that time was Eastpoint Prosthetics & Orthotics, the place where he had gone for his prosthesis.  He also completed a WEX at Spring Arbor.  James has taken and passed the NAII class and is currently in a WEX at UNC Lenoir Health Care.

James has participated in all the NextGen activities and meetings, including attending NC Youth Summit, assisting with job fairs, and serving the homeless at Mary’s Soup Kitchen in Kinston, NC. James is currently mentoring another NextGen youth participant and serves as a youth mentor through The Gate in Kinston, NC.  He has also attended Eastern Carolina Workforce Development Board (ECWDB) Youth Council meetings and shared his experiences with the members. He connected with the Unit Manager of Vocational-Rehabilitation who said the program could assist with school if James wanted to go into a career making prostheses.



WIOA Youth Program

Lillian : Youth Success Story

Lillian came the WIOA Youth program in 2017 seeking to earn her Adult High School Credential.  She succeeded in completing this credential that same year and entered the early childhood associate degree program at Carteret Community college in the spring 2018 semester.  Along the way, Lillian was accepted in the Partnership East Program and Pirate Promise program and set her sights toward the associate transfer program with the intention of attending East Carolina University to earn her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.

While attending class, Lillian participated in paid work experience through the WIOA Youth Program. She started the work experience component as a means of career exploration and to develop her employability skills.  She initially started as a Front Desk Attendant at the Boys and Girls Club.  After successfully completing this program, she went on to work as a Kids Program Specialist at the NC Maritime Museum. At this work experience Lillian gained experience planning child friendly, educational activities for visitors and school groups. Lillian then went on to work as a Teacher Assistant where she worked with children ranging from birth to Kindergarten. She completed SIDS training and after-school program training and excelled in her role.  Her last work-based learning opportunity was as a Human Resource Assistant for Carteret Community College.  In each of these work experiences, Lillian gained new knowledge of working with the public, children and administrative tasks, all of which will give her a good foundation for her continued course of training.

Lillian has stated of her experiences, “The WIOA program has given me the opportunity through work experience to explore career options. It has allowed me to work with some amazing mentors who are always there when I needed advice or just needed someone to talk to if I am having a problem and to help push me in the right directions.”  

Lillian has also taken advantage of other services offered by the WIOA Youth Program including supportive services, financial literacy, leadership opportunities, and completion of the Career Readiness Certificate.  Most notably, Lillian was selected and attended the North Carolina Youth Summit in 2019.  

Lillian completed her associate degree program in the summer of 2020 and transferred to ECU during the Fall 2020 semester to complete her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.

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