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The Manufacturing Academy churns out biggest batch of graduates

Updated: Apr 15, 2019

More students graduated from this academy winter session than any year.

By Aimee Martinez, Staff Writer

Photo by The Valley Star/Mickie Shaw
Photo by The Valley Star/Mickie Shaw

Twenty-one students graduated from the Manufacturing Academy March 20, the largest group the academy has ever had.

Families, friends and employers gathered in the newly renovated machine shop to watch the graduates as they received their certificates of completion and shook the hands of their instructors. Interim President Denise Nolden expressed her joy at being able to witness this academy’s accomplishments.

“It’s wonderful to meet the instructor and employers,” Noldon said. “Send us more students. Tell others about us.”

Program Manager Roberto Gutierrez and Dean of Adult/Community Education and Workforce Development Douglas Marriott conveyed pride in the graduates and congratulated them. Teachers gushed over classroom memories and the accomplishments of their students while giving them nuggets of advice. Three valedictorians reflected on their experiences with the academy.

“Everything is either born, grown or made,” Valedictorian Tralia Evans said about the biggest lesson she had learned.

After the graduation ceremony, students were encouraged to network with the employers present. Many of the companies included: LMI Aerospace, Express Pros, Accurate Dial and Newsplate, MS Aerospace, DG Engineering and Synear.

“You guys are so lucky,” said instructor Mark Maki. “You’re being courted by companies.”

A week after graduation, nine students were already hired, some waited for clearance on their background checks and others got interviewed. At the time of graduation, some students already had jobs, like George Shirinyan, who started work as an entry level CNC operator at LMS Aerospace five days later. His goal is to eventually become a programmer.

According to Gutierrez, 75 percent of graduates have a job or offer within a week. However, some students who apply to manufacturing companies around week four or five can secure work through a commitment before they graduate. Often employers will come and speak during training while simultaneously scoping out potential employees. Once a student has been hired, they can return to the academy and build upon their learning.

Those who enroll in the program receives funding from various sources including: The South Los Angeles UAW WorkSource Center, Antelope Valley Comprehensive AJCC (America’s Job Center of California), El Proyecto Del Barrio Youth Source Center, Los Angeles County Office of Education and Propel LA.

WorkSource Centers fund adults through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act from the Department of Labor. YouthSource centers fund high school dropouts and unemployed graduates through the Federal Workforce Investment Act and a $12 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Workforce Innovation Fund.

The academy’s previous record of graduates was made in 2017 with 14 students, according to the LA Economic and Workforce Development Department.

“I thank God for this opportunity,” said former student Alejandro Corado. “I thought there was no hope when I was unemployed.”


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