Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) held its 25th graduation ceremony on Dec. 7 to recognize the achievements of 35 students who successfully completed the Partnership on Work Enrichment and Readiness (POWER) program.
The POWER program helps individuals in mental health and addiction recovery to successfully develop and reach their education and career goals through a free two-credit college course that focuses on career self-assessment, presentation skills, time management, resume and cover letter writing, interview skills, computer basics, goal setting and college success skills, among others.
Twenty-five students graduated from the fall POWER program and 10 students graduated from the new summer program, said program Director Lisa Barbiero. Since the POWER Program started in 2006, more than 600 students have graduated from the program, with 40 graduates continuing their education at MCCC to earn certificates and degrees and many others entered the workforce.
Montgomery County Commissioners Chair Valerie Arkoosh, Vice Chair Ken Lawrence, and Joseph Gale spoke at the ceremony, as well as Director of Montgomery County Health and Human Services Barbara O’Malley.
“Your journey was not easy and you had to face bumps along the way, but the important thing is that you made it,” said Arkoosh.
As part of the ceremony, several POWER graduates shared their stories, describing the challenges they overcame in their lives and how the POWER program provides the self-assurance and skills they will need in the future.
One graduate, Carletta Thomas, described how she overcame her drug addiction, earned her GED and enrolled in the POWER program.
“I learned that if I try, be honest with myself and ask for help, anything is possible,” said Thomas, whose family was there to cheer for her when she spoke.
For graduate Stephanie Hamburger, the POWER program gave her the confidence to believe in herself and overcome her anxiety.
“With POWER, I was given the chance to challenge myself and move forward, she said, describing how she found her passion working with horses. “I pride myself in being a fighter, and that’s how I got where I am today.”
The POWER team includes Director Lisa Barbiero, Community Liaison Lori Schreiber, Employment and Grant Coordinator Tarsha Scovens, Coordinator Holly Harris, Peer Mentor Kevin Ford, Faculty Byron Goldstein, Faculty Rosemary Regan and Dean of Social Sciences Division Dr. Aaron Shatzman.
The POWER Program is funded by the Montgomery County Office of Health and Human Services, The Pew Charitable Trust, the Patricia Kind Family Foundation and Montgomery County Community College.