Early in my career I earned my bachelor’s degree in Conflict Studies and Peacemaking with a minor in Native American Studies, but never pursued a career with that degree. Instead, my career has been primarily in the construction industry for about 25 years.
In 2008, after a downturn in construction, I met Vanessa through the Central Minnesota Jobs and Training Services, Inc., (CMJTS) Dislocated Worker Program. While I was interested in training, as a single parent, it didn’t work out for me at that time. I rode out the recession and returned to construction. Unfortunately, I later experienced several injuries requiring surgery and therapy, including a serious on-the-job injury, which prevented me from returning to construction. Knowing my desire to become a physical therapist assistant (PTA), my physical therapy doctor encouraged me to pursue a career as a PTA.
Eventually I reconnected with Vanessa and the Dislocated Worker Program. She proved to be indispensable with her knowledge of the program and her support. She walked me through the process every step of the way, from career exploration to qualifying for the PTA program. Vanessa explained every facet of the program and ensured all deadlines and timelines were met. I applied and was accepted into the PTA program at Lake Area Technical Institute (LATI) in Watertown, SD—two hours west of Willmar. Vanessa was able to assist with my school expenses and even had money, at times, to help me make ends meet. She was an invaluable resource during my entire program from start to finish, regularly checking in to ask me if there was anything I needed to be successful.
On May 11, 2018, I graduated with high honors from the PTA program. If it hadn’t been for the Dislocated Worker Program and Vanessa’s guidance through the process, school may not have been a possibility. Along with the support of my wife, knowing that someone else would go to great lengths to help me succeed, motivated me to work harder.
I am currently a PTA at Meeker Manor, a skilled nursing facility, in Litchfield, MN, and enjoy helping people through the healing and recovery process to regain their prior level of function or surpass it.