Cherokee Nation Chief of Staff and Oklahoma State Rep. Chuck Hoskin Sr. was the keynote speaker.
TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA — About 100 Talking Leaves Job Corps students tossed their blue caps into the air Friday, making official their graduation from the program that awards at-risk youth a GED or high school diploma.
The ceremony was held in the TLJC gymnasium on Bald Hill Road in Tahlequah.
Cherokee Nation Chief of Staff and Oklahoma State Rep. Chuck Hoskin Sr. was the keynote speaker. He commended the room full of graduates for completing a program to improve their lives.
“Through academic and career technical training we are making quality investments for the future. This is a program I believe in and supported as a former Tribal Councilor and still do as a state representative,” said Hoskin Sr. “Throughout the United States, Job Corps has helped turn people’s lives around, including here in the Cherokee Nation. This program is important in developing a good work ethic in our Cherokee youth, which is vital to the individual’s future and the future of our tribal nation.”
Each year, Job Corps gives 60,000 at-risk youth across the country a second chance to complete their high school or GED diploma and get specialized career training for a work-ready job market.
James Broussard, of Sallisaw, graduated from Cherokee Nation’s Talking Leaves Job Corps program Friday with a high school diploma and job training certification in culinary arts.
“This program has meant a lot to me, because it shows we have second chances,” said Broussard, who will work a food and beverage job at Cherokee Casino Fort Gibson. “If we make mistakes in life, Job Corps allows us to work our way up and come out of it and become professionals.”
The national Job Corps program started 50 years ago in 1964. To date, it has trained more than 2.7 million young people in more than 100 career technical areas, ranging from automotive to nursing assistants to information technology.
The Cherokee Nation started a Job Corps program in 1978. It currently serves 197 students between the ages of 16 and 24. The center is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.
For more information on Talking Leaves Job Corps, visithttp://talkingleaves.jobcorps.gov/home.aspx.