Lifelong Learning Center hosts inaugural reception for grads
Speakers congratulate attendees, urge them to pursue career dreams
The Lifelong Learning Center, located at the Robert D. Stethem Educational Center, held its first-ever reception for new and upcoming graduates Sept. 28.
Despite heavy rains, a half dozen former students came to the graduate reception, featuring career discussions by individuals from a number of fields.
“This is to help graduates looking for jobs, by bringing in speakers from various organizations who can speak with them about opportunities in the community,” said Elizabeth Sinnes, coordinator of adult education. “We want to honor our graduates, but we also want to make sure our students are connected with the next step in their education, which is jobs, or training for jobs.”
The Charles County Adult Education Program at the center offers day and evening classes for students pursuing a Maryland high school diploma through the National External Diploma Program or general educational development (GED) tests.
Sinnes said the inaugural event was scheduled to coordinate with Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, which ran from Sept. 26 to Oct. 1.
Graduation ceremonies for the recent graduates will be held Oct. 20 at North Point High School.
Norma Dorsett, youth and young adult services program manager for the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulations, praised graduates for their accomplishments.
“Congratulations, because I know that is not an easy job, especially once you’re an adult, and you have to juggle family, and going to work, and all these things, and you’re trying to reach your goals,” Dorsett said.
Dr. Dianna Abney, health officer for the Charles County Department of Health, spoke to attendees about the various opportunities in the health care profession, including physicians, nursing, pharmacy, psychology, physical therapy, medical billing and others.
“There is so much diversity in the health care field,” Abney said. “The bottom line is, you can find something that interests you if you’re interested in health care.”
Abney encouraged graduates to pursue their goals toward their desired occupation, in health care or elsewhere.
“Everybody’s journey, to whatever their career is — health care included — is whatever your journey is and it is the right journey for you, and you just need to work towards it your own way,” Abney said.
Lora Bennett, director of customer experience for technology in Charles County Public Schools, discussed how her experiences as a math teacher eventually led her to the information technology field.
“Technology, at this point, is so ubiquitous in our society, that whatever you’re interested in, if you have a knack for technology, you could be in that industry, doing technology,” Bennett said.
Bruce Posey, director of the College of Southern Maryland’s Center for Trades and Energy Training, said there are high-paying opportunities in the trades, such as plumbing, electrical and HVAC technology.
“There are a number of reasons the trades have suffered, but the demand is pretty great right now,” Posey said. “If you’re not afraid of a little hard work, and you’re not afraid of cracking the books, the trades might be worth looking at.”
Steven Tripp, marketing manager for Chaney Enterprises, said it is important when interviewing with a new company to do research and make a positive impression.
“Show up, show them you care,” Tripp said.
Tajala Lockhart, CEO of Simply Consulting, which provides career counseling, told graduates this is a new beginning in their lives.
“The world is your pearl,” Lockhart said. “Whatever you want to do in your life is yours, as long as you’re willing to put in the work.”
Sherri Buck-Sanders received her diploma in August. The mother of four said she dropped out of school after becoming a parent, but years later learned about the Lifelong Learning Center through a brochure at her daughter’s school.
“They welcomed me with open arms,” Buck-Sanders said. “They really worked with me.”
Buck-Sanders received her high school diploma in August.
“I’m looking forward to moving on, taking the next step,” she said.