Success through Worker Retraining

As a mother of five, Nicole Music–Olney had more than her fair share of challenges and hardships throughout life, including multiple stints of homelessness during her first marriage. Though her life had turned around, after seven years working as a bus driver for the school district, she had grown tired of being laid off each summer and the challenges it created. Each summer she would collect unemployment and food stamp benefits to get by while applying for temporary summer jobs.

“I was tired of trying to find a job every summer and wanted something stable,” Nicole explained. “It wasn’t easy finding a job every summer that worked with my family’s schedule, and I couldn’t always find the job I needed. Besides, employers were often reluctant to hire me knowing that I’d be returning to work in the fall.”

That’s when, through the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), she heard about the Worker Retraining program at Centralia College. Nicole will graduate from Centralia College on June 17, earning an associate in technical arts in accounting. She is president of the Forensics Accounting Club, and worked in this past year in the community tax center at the college. She is a member of TRiO Club, the student support club through a federal program designed to assist first-generation, disabled, and low income students achieve a college education. She also tutored students in accounting, business law, and business math.  Presently, Nicole is working as an intern in the accounting department of the Chehalis Tribe with hopes it will turn into a permanent position. Though she isn’t Native American, her husband is, Nicole was elected to the Council for Early Learning with the Chehalis Tribe.

“My life has changed so much,” Nicole said. “Though I don’t know exactly where my career will lead, I couldn’t imagine having the opportunities I have now. It’s very exciting for me and my family and I’m so thankful to the Worker Retraining staff for their support. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

The Worker Retraining program is a partnership between community and technical colleges and the Employment Security Department. It provides training and education benefits for Washington State workers and veterans who are drawing unemployment, have been laid off from their jobs, are displaced homemakers, or are active duty military personnel with separation orders. The program is used in conjunction with other benefit and grant programs to retrain workers for more stable and upwardly mobile employment opportunities. The program offers other possible funding for childcare, tools, and other educational expenses. In addition, the Worker Retraining program offers support services including, career advising, educational planning, resource referrals, job development, job referrals and help with resumes.

For more information about Worker Retraining or other grant programs at Centralia College, contact Joan Meister at jmeister@centralia.edu or call 360-736-9391, ext. 385.

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