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Ivy Tech program gives offenders tools to succeed

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind.  --  A second chance at success. About a dozen former Indiana DOC inmates participated in a graduation ceremony Friday afternoon after a summer-long welding program.

They’ll take these skills right to the local manufacturing industry.

The second shot these men get comes with the opportunity to start their careers with their two different certifications.

The graduation comes after a summer-long two step program. “My class, it’s like drinking through a fire hose,” said Instructor Greg Witter. He explained that the program is demanding.  “They have to successfully complete a hands-on portion of the course. Once they do that they go on to do an online testing to earn the certification."

Their certifications are either through the National Institute for Metalworking Skills or the American Welding Society.

The instructors of the Ivy Tech program say that being a part of the second chance the cohort of men get is beyond rewarding.

Department Chair Randy Kuta said seeing the growth of the men was moving. “I mean just seeing where they were when they first started, and where they ended up. And the proud moment, the smile on their face, I earned that certificate.”

The program taught the men skills to earn a living.

“Getting out of the center, or any type of incarceration, you kinda feel like you have a leg back.” The certifications these men now have allow the offenders to compete with other job seekers who don’t have the same past.

“They also learn skills that they can adapt personally to better themselves,” Witter said.

Lavante Henry graduate said he loved every minute of the program. “From being incarcerated you feel you feel a little depressed and oppressed, but this it feels uplifting it feels inspiring.” He’s disappointed it has come to the end.

“The future has no limit,” Henry said smiling.

Henry already has a job.

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