Dr. Jill Biden and Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter visited with Reading Area Community College (RACC) students and staff from the College’s manufacturing and career training programs, as well as local business partners. The Second Lady hosted a panel at the Schmidt Training and Technology Center (STTC) as part of her Community College to Career tour.
“We were honored to have Dr. Biden and Martha Kanter visit our campus and listen to the great testimony of our students and the employers that trust RACC to provide them with training,” said Dr. Weitz, President of RACC. “Both of them are true champions of community colleges and our goal is to keep the synergy going, get people educated, trained and employed.”
The students that Dr. Biden met with represented a diverse population, but the one consistent theme is the unique, high-level career training opportunities they have been able to take advantage of at RACC.
Leonard Mays, a 56-year-old displaced maintenance mechanic, enrolled in the Mechatronics program thanks to training funding from PA Career Link. He was recently hired by local manufacturer Carpenter Technology and will soon be returning to RACC to participate in Carpenter’s custom training program.
Rashaun Johnson, a 22-year-old working on AMIST certification, landed a job at East Penn Manufacturing in production thanks to a referral from the STTC staff. Johnson has moved to maintenance and East Penn is sending him back to RACC for training to be an electro- mechanical technician.
In addition to helping students find new jobs, RACC also partners with local companies to provide additional, customized training to their employees. Timothy Lutz, a 36-year-old employee at Bayer Healthcare, and Tom Minnich, a 52-year-old Electrical/Electronic Servicer at Hershey, have both been able to benefit from this partnership.
Scott Hole, the Satellite Maintenance Manager for East Penn, discussed how their company was one of the original participants that led to the creation of the STTC. Now, East Penn is just one of the many companies working with Bonnie Spayd, the Director of Business and Industry Programs at STTC, and another panel participant.
Additionally, representatives of RACC’s new Technical Academy that allows high school students to earn college credits while studying at one of the two area Career and Technology Centers were included in the discussion. Gerald Witmer, Administrative Director at Reading-Muhlenberg Career and Technology Center (RMCTC) and Pedro Ruiz, a senior high school student studying at RMCTC, shared how this academy will open new doors for local students. Along with manufacturing, Dr. Biden also heard about short-term career training programs in medical and business occupations available through the College’s Gateway Center. Tiffany Bryant had a background in human services, but could not find a job and was struggling to make ends meet. After some research, she decided to enter RACC’s Dental Assistant program, and received a scholarship from a private donor to make the training financially possible.