By Tia Lynn Lecorchick staff writer

The Morgan Works and Workplace Fundamental Skills Certification program, which offers free classes training the unemployed to become better equipped to land a job, held its first graduation ceremony for seven students who completed this first-time offered course on April 10 at the James Madison Inn Conference Center in downtown Madison. This collaborative program is spearheaded by the Morgan County Family Connection, Georgia Piedmont Technical College (GPTC), the Madison-Morgan Board of Commissioners, and the Northeast Workforce Investment Board.

The Workplace Fundamentals Skill Training program is a 94-hour course offered through GPTC, which aims to prepare the unemployed with a variety of necessary professional skills including the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) certification, a Work Keys National Career Readiness certification, and a Forklift certification. The seven graduates were Carla Binns, Derrick Clark, Sabrina Cobb, Wanda Durden, Isaac McAlister, McTrice L. Reid-Smith, and Fachsa L. Thomas. Cobb and Clark spoke on behalf of the graduating class.

“I knew this group of classmates were going to be special, said Clark. “It was a learning experience for me. To my classmates, I hope I was a motivation to each one of you as you were a motivation for me.”

“I am so privileged for having participated in this program, said Cobb. “We, the unemployed, need every edge we can get in order to get a job, with this program, Morgan will work,” said Cobb. The graduation featured several keynote speakers, including Bob Cooper, A GPTC instructor, Ellen Warren, a Morgan County Board of Commissioners member, Kim Meadows, from the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, and Simisola Johnson, a business services recruiter from the Georgia Department of Labor.

It was Johnson’s harrowing recount of her own journey to success that enthralled the crowd. She moved to Texas from Nigeria when she was 20 years old, marrying a man who already had a wife she did not learn about until after they married. After years of abuse and becoming homeless while pregnant, Johnson struggled to survive.

“I was cold, I was hungry, and I was crying,” said Johnson. “That’s how my life began. Remember where your life began and remember where you are going… But I didn’t let anything deter me. I did not let anything take value away from me. I didn’t have the skills employers were looking for, but I said ‘show me where school is and I will learn.’” “Don’t let the world dictate who you are.

You have your own identity,” said Johnson. GPTC has given you the training you will need to face the challenges of tomorrow.” The graduates were presented with their certificates and now have another skill-set to secure better jobs for themselves. For more information about the Workplace Fundamentals Skill Training program contact the Morgan County Family Connection at: (706) 343-5848.