How Two People Found Career Pathways Through MCC Programs

How Two People Found Career Pathways Through MCC Programs
Democrat & Chronicle
January 25, 2021

By Amorette Miller

The pandemic has shifted the economy to a fragile state, affecting many industries such as education, entertainment, restaurants and air travel.

This turn of events since early 2020 has spurred some workers to change careers and search for job secure occupations.

Two Monroe Community College education programs are among those people could turn to in an effort to pursue new career paths.

Dahiana Tague of Webster has been a certified nurse assistant for less than a year. Previously, she owned a construction company that specialized in roofing. Wanting to change fields, she entered into MCC’s certified nurse assistant program.

Certified  nurse assistants are valued team members in the health-care industry. They are essential employees who typically work at long-term care and skilled nursing facilities, hospitals and doctors’ offices. MCC’s non-credit nursing program offers paths to home health aide, certified nurse assistant and training and development certifications.

Tague wanted to see what the in-demand field of healthcare was like – and to immediately find a secure job. From knowing nothing about the craft, she earned her certification in less than two months.

Unlike nurses, CNAs do not administer medicine. But they do care for people in various settings and handle other duties like assisting with vitals, planning and staffing recreational activities, bathing and helping to feed individuals in their care.

“The industry is hot. You can pick and choose and change hours – it’s very flexible. You don’t have to commit to a 9-5 job; you can work per-diem. This profession is not just a stepping stone, it allows me the flexibility to be present for my family,” she says.

Monroe Community College’s Director of Healthcare Programs, Dr. Marcia Lynch talked about the field.

 is the first line for that individual they are caring for and a crucial member of the team.”

The MCC program works with employers to support caregivers in the advancement of their careers with a bridge program to an LPN or other more advanced positions. Their goal is to work with partner organizations to offer programs that will allow students to work part-time and train part-time while keeping a full-time wage and full-time benefits.

“Our goal is to provide opportunities for students to overcome barriers to success,” Lynch said. “One of the biggest barriers is not only the tuition, but the financial constraints of the five and a half weeks without income.”

Thanks to Monroe County Health Profession Opportunity Grants and local business partners, MCC says nearly all of its students in the program have full tuition paid, and the vast majority find work with a business partner before they begin training, she said.

Those who complete the total course qualify to take the state exam and then obtain their certification.

HVAC program

Having good ventilation is possibly one of the most essential business requirements of being COVID-19 compliant during the pandemic.

Will Kurtz works in the HVAC (Heating, ventilation and air conditioning) field and is a pre-apprentice at Postler & Jaeckle Corp. through UA Local 13. He tried traditional college for one year and believed it just wasn’t for him, so he decided to enroll in the Monroe Community College HVAC Jumpstart Program.

HVAC Jumpstart is an 11-week program with a 200-hour co-op that links students to employers to develop their skills within the trade. The specific core content covers heating systems, air-conditioning and electric motor controls.

“Our work and the training associated with it is really hands-on.” Kurtz says that it is a great opportunity to enter into a career with excellent pay. “My employer hired me right from the program. I had absolutely no prior experience in anything, before this job.”

“As a full-time pre-apprentice, it really helps if you are technical. Expect to work with your hands mostly, changing a lot of filters, pipe fitting, cleaning-up, working on air handling units and changing belts,” says Kurtz who has been steadily working ever since his graduation from MCC’s very first HVAC Jumpstart cohort.

Although MCC has several offerings in the HVAC field, including an academic certificate, and an A.A.S. degree program, “Jumpstart” is a quick micro-credential that accelerates the traditional track. There, students can achieve learning outcomes at a faster pace.

“I am now equipped to wire a motor, solder, braze – using math – which is such a big part of the piping industry; to measure and cut pipe according to piping formulas and offsets. I am really starting to figure things out on my own. You can go right in to Jumpstart straight out of high school and work immediately in the field while learning,” Kurtz said.

At the end of a five-year apprenticeship, Kurtz will become a full-rate building trades plumber/pipefitter, service technician member of UA Local 13, likely continuing on with the same employer.

“I’ve worked straight through the pandemic – we are essential workers,” Kurtz said. “Over the last few months, we’ve changed lots of filters for businesses prior to their reopening. We’ve also installed ultraviolet lights during this time period. It feels good to work in this field –– especially now –– when breathing clean air is so important,

John Troy, the program director of skilled trades and industrial technology for Monroe Community College, manages the development of Jumpstart programming in skilled trades and apprenticeships.

“The college supports registered apprentices in New York State in electrical, plumbing and pipefitter training which currently oversees 93 active apprentices,” Troy said.

MCC ensures that students graduate from Jumpstart – ready with books, hand tools and their OSHA -10 accreditation.