Lyndon B. Johnson Job Corps Center (LBJ) celebrated the accomplishments of 16 graduates with a commencement ceremony in which the recipients received diplomas, GEDs and certificates of completion from their vocational trades.
After members of the Lyndon B. Johnson Gospel Choir sung the National Anthem and performed a musical interlude, The LBJ Student Government Association President, Carolyn Dehart, introduced the Spring Commencement’s Keynote Speaker, Gary Shields.
Shields, a former Franklin High School principal and current member of the Board of Education, addressed the LBJ graduates as the Keynote Speaker and encouraged them to look at their accomplishments as a “second chance.”
“Young people, the second chance this institution has given you, the LBJ Job Corps also has given a second chance to this community with employment and the economic surge benefiting the people of Macon County,” said Shields.
“As a high school principal of 21 years, I have bestowed close to 5,000 diplomas,” said Shields. “The difference is, you all are graduating out of your choice. On this day, I see young people in front of me who have taken ownership of their own destination. Somewhere you had that talk with the person in the mirror and a light bulb came on and you have sought out to take advantage of this second chance.”
Shields commended the graduates on the sacrifices they had to make to attend the program at LBJ. Friday’s graduates came from as far west as Picayune, Mississippi, and as far south as Jacksonville, Florida. “You made a difficult choice in leaving your family, neighborhood, community and friends to enhance your life and career skills,” said Shields. “This graduation achievement belongs to you because of your sacrifices.”
Shields shared several second chance opportunities in his own life with the graduates and told each of them to share their own second chances with other people throughout the next step in their journey. “Just remember one thing,” said Shields. “The will to prepare is far greater than the will to win. Your graduation is important, but what you have done in preparing for this day will make you a winner.”
LBJ also presented Shields with the USDA’s Certificate of Appreciation for his service in the community and his support of LBJ’s students and staff.
Cullen Milligan, who came to LBJ after receiving his high school diploma from Savannah High School in Savannah, GA., received his certificate in the Office Administration vocation during last Friday's graduation ceremony.
According to Milligan, he plans to take the skill obtained from LBJ and apply them to the next phase of his life. “My experience at LBJ has been a great one, and I have learned many things during my stay on center,” he said. “I learned that there needs to be some type of order in your life in order to be really successful. It can even be something as simple as going to bed and waking up on time. I also learned that despite what other people might say, there will always be someone out there who is willing to help you achieve your goals.”
Milligan plans to take the skills he learned during the Office Administration program and work to apply them to a career in Journalism. “When I leave LBJ I want to pursue a job writing as a journalist. Because it is something I am really passionate about,” he said. “The training I received from the Job Corps program has helped me out when it comes to formatting, information finding, and typing. I’ve applied and hope to be accepted into Job Corps - – Advanced College Training Program. It would be a tremendous opportunity for me when it comes down to starting a career, because I will be able to take college classes that will allow me to learn more of the things I’ll need to know to be successful.”
Job Corps is a no-cost education and career technical training program administered by the U.S.D.A Forest Service in partnership with the Department of Labor that helps young people between the ages of 16 and 24 improve the quality of their lives through career technical and academic training. The Job Corps program is authorized by Title I-C of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and the LBJ Center is the oldest program in the nation.
LBJ supports the program’s mission of teaching eligible young people the skills they need to become employable and independent, and placing them in meaningful jobs or further education.
Job Corps does several projects throughout Macon County as a part of an effort to enhance community involvement. Projects include, applying their skills directly by doing construction all over Macon County.