Contribution by Princess Agha, Program Manager at Central Scholarship and Practice Advisory Member

I had just finished giving a presentation and was speaking with some of the folks who lingered afterwards. There was one young man in particular whose words stood out to me. He said he needed a new job. I asked, “So what happens now? How do we make that happen?”

He responded, “All I know is that I’m not going to college. All I want is training.”

There was barely a mention of college during my presentation, so I found it rather telling that he felt the need to specify that college was not part of his plan. After a bit more discussion, I learned that the young man was a few years out of high school and concluded that he has probably been hearing for years that college is the only way to land a great career. This is just one example of many encounters and experiences that highlight the fact that it is of the utmost importance for us to spread the message that college is one way, but not the only way. There is career training, workforce development programs, trades and certifications, vocational education, and more that lead to gratifying careers.

When I think about why I wanted to be part of the Practice Advisory (PA), what stood out was the pillar belief that everyone deserves the opportunity for meaningful work and a hopeful future. I joined PA because I wanted to be part of a community of professionals and practitioners who also shared that belief. Despite what some may believe, a college degree is not a prerequisite to obtaining meaningful work and a hopeful future.

Richard was a driver for a major company when we at Central Scholarship first met him. As things progressed, Richard said that he began to see the bigger picture and this clarity led Richard to declare that it was time for a career. His background in transportation and his desire for a career piqued Richard’s interest in CDL programs. Fast forward to now and Richard says that things are going “awesome”. He currently works as a Class A CDL Driver for United Natural Foods. He said that this journey has changed his life and allowed him to be able to provide for himself and his family.

Last year, Dicheaker enrolled in a patient care technician (PCT) program. Once she completed this program, Dicheaker knew, “things were really rolling and [she] could do this.” She was so successful in her PCT program that she did not stop there with her education. Completing this training inspired Dicheaker to continue advancing in her career.

Career training and workforce development programs are transforming the lives of individuals, families, and communities all across Baltimore. The next time someone says that college is the only way to ensure a bright future, encourage them to remember that there are various pathways to a great career and a promising future.