There aren’t many classes where the teacher has binders of thank you letters full of stories of success, improved self-esteem and positive life change.
PierceWorks! is a class that lasts seven weeks and helps students find and secure careers. Instructor Evelyn Brooks has seen students anywhere between 18 and 74 years old come and go since 1994, when PierceWorks! began.
Brooks, a Pierce College alumni, has her bachelor’s degree in workforce education and development and her masters in organizational leadership and human resources.
“I have such a passion, honestly, for what I do,” Brooks said. “I don’t change anyone…they [students] are the ones who make it work. Lots of credit goes to the students.”
The course includes 210 hours of computer, human development and career transition trainging in an engaging classroom full of support, laughter and discussion.
Kathy Ifft, one of 18 PierceWorks! students has seen her self-esteem increase throughout the class. Her self-esteem score has nearly doubled since the first day of class.
“That’s what this class does without us even knowing it,” Ifft said. “It’s a class that everyone should take, anyone of any age.”
Ifft called Brooks a “dream builder” and student Gloria Senio said that the class is a “life changer” because she’s been able to use the communication skills she learned in the class and take it home to her family.
“We look forward to coming,” Senio said. “We have two more weeks left and we’re like ‘no.’”
The program has volunteers come in for workshops about transitioning, financial management, advertising and networking yourself, and a trip down to Korum Ford for a workshop with Jerry Korum.
Students who take the class, which is Monday thru Thursday from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., receive 20 credits.
Anyone can attend the class if they pay tuition, about $1600, but priority is given to people receiving unemployment insurance. Those on UI benefits continue to receive benefits and don’t have to pay for the class or turn in proof of job searching during the time of their class. There are 18 spots every session and there is often a waitlist.
The class used to have 23 spots, with five seats reserved for displaced homemakers, but the funding for that program was not allotted. Funding for PierceWorks! has to be reapproved every year.
Although it is hard to keep track of students, Brooks sees notifications on Facebook that her students have gotten jobs and was invited to the graduation of a student who came into her class with no college experience but who is now getting her master’s degree.
There is a list of more than 25 former students who worked or work at Pierce College. Some students do report back if they go to school or get employed. In the last six sessions of PierceWorks!, out of 119 students, 33 reported going back to school and 24 reported employment.
Since the Pierce College South Hill park location closed in December, the PierceWorks! program office and classes are in the Arts and Allied Health building.
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