“Fight all your insecurities if you want to be successful.”
Before coming to Job Corps, Ricky was working at a local Family Dollar making $10 an hour. When his daughter was born, he had to return to work the very next day. That was the moment Ricky knew there had to be more opportunities out there for him, and for his family.
By the time his daughter turned 1, he was ready to make a change and sought out what was better for him and his family. Though he knew Job Corps was a free program, he also knew that it would probably take a lot of hard work. Luckily, Ricky was raised to be a hard worker and wasn’t afraid to step up to the challenge.
“I always had a job. My dad taught me to be a hard worker,” Ricky said.
Having his daughter gave him the push he needed to do better, but it was not always easy for Ricky to find employment due to having a criminal record. Coming to Job Corps gave him the fresh start he needed, and there he was able to achieve academically while inspiring those around him.
"Having an instructor that knew the same struggles helped me see what aspects of Job Corps were important to make a better life for my family.”
Once at Job Corps, Ricky joined the Building Construction Technology training area and learned about all aspects of construction, from plumbing to tiling, to roofing, to painting and beyond. His instructor became a mentor to him.“He was someone I could always go to for real advice because [my instructor] had been a Job Corps student too."
Ricky will be the first to admit that he didn’t go to Job Corps to make friends or find extracurriculars; he came to get a career. He put his head down and worked hard, though he always felt that he had a knack for public speaking and enjoyed his time as a youth group leader for his church.
Once he opened up to the idea of being involved on campus, he was shocked at the opportunities that came his way. Ricky found himself more involved with his community than ever and took on the public relations role in student government. He built a relationship with local vendors who would supply them with materials for on-campus events and even stepped up and filled in for the student body president when he had to step down and governed over 500 students. He slid into that role smoothly and realized that he was receiving the most positive attention he had ever had in his life.
Though it wasn’t always easy, Ricky would not change his experience at Job Corps for anything. He pushed himself every day, sometimes staying on campus as late as 8 p.m. and then walking home, because he was determined to make a better life for his family. He remembers having to tell himself that one day it would all be worth it, even though he wasn’t seeing an immediate return on his investment. He did not miss a single day during his work-based learning, and it definitely paid off.
He is now employed at Solar Landscape, a solar installation company. His managers consider him to be one of their hardest-working employees, and Ricky is always coming up with inventive ways to help the rest of the team.
He keeps in touch with his friends from Job Corps every day, and the positive leadership experience he had there has inspired him to want to build foster homes for children and eventually start a business with his wife, who works in a similar field.
At the end of the day, Job Corps showed Ricky what he is worth, and because of that his main goal is to always be somewhere he is appreciated.
While he knows it is not always easy to sacrifice, Ricky knows the price is worth it.