WIOA Started Garrett on the Path to his Dream Career

Aug, 30th, 2023

Garrett, from Trenton, came to Lenoir Community College (LCC) with plans to attain his High School Equivalency Diploma. With the help of his dedicated teacher, Fred Seymour, and some nudging encouraging words from his Career Advisor Tracey Price, he attained this goal in July 2021.

Garrett had a dream - he loved cars and everything involving racing, from NASCAR to drag strip and everything in between. He said he wanted to learn to work on cars and get a job in an automotive shop and eventually have his own race car, and possibly work for NASCAR.

Working through the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA), a federally funded program that helps youth between the ages of 16-24 achieve their employment goals, Garrett was able to enroll in the Automotive Systems Technology Program and obtain a paid work experience. The WIOA program covers training costs and provides funds for paid work experiences for eligible youth.

“Garrett had a tough time at traditional school and said he was labeled a slow learner and doubted his capabilities because of that,” Price said. “He had some reservations about enrolling in the degree program, but he took a leap of faith and decided to give it a try. Working and the stress of attending classes became overwhelming, but he never gave up and he completed several certifications through the program.”

Price said he began a paid work experience in July 2022, at Pollocksville Automotive while attending classes. The owner of the shop, Charles Zavalney, worked with Garrett from day one even though he had no experience. Over the next nine months Zavalney and another mechanic helped him learn skills every shop worker needs to know such as changing and balancing tires, changing oil, and other preventive maintenance tasks. “Garrett struggled some days trying to remember all the details of completing these tasks and some days he was very frustrated, but I encouraged him to not give up and to cut himself some slack.”

Garrett’s perseverance paid off as after his work experience ended in March, he was hired full time at his worksite. “Not only has Garrett achieved his dream of working on cars for a living, but he also told me they are working on a racecar at the shop,” Price said. “He hasn’t reached his NASCAR dream yet, but he is well on his way if he stays determined and works hard toward that goal.”

“Nothing is impossible, and with WIOA Program at LCC, we help make dreams come true. I enjoyed helping Garrett reach his goals. It is very fulfilling to be able to see the difference this program can make in the lives of the youth we serve,” she said.

“I am thankful for all the help I received from Ms. Tracey, Mr. Fred, and Charles,” Garrett said. “They never gave up on me and I am so grateful for that. I also want to thank God because I will be racing very soon. I recommend the WIOA Program at LCC to anyone that needs some help reaching their dreams.”

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