Meet Alexis Hawkins. Thirteen years after being expelled from high school, she graduated from Howard Law School and today has two college degrees, a career she’s passionate about and a vision for her future.
Currently studying to take the bar exam, Alexis aspires to “become a public defender and then a judge who works to combat systemic racism. My long-term goal is to start a nonprofit that helps struggling youth in my community like I was.” She credits her career training and leadership positions at the Woodland Job Corps Center in Maryland as “what sparked my interest in a career that involved becoming a leader and has guided me in a lot of what I have done so far.”
“Although my accomplishments are rare for where I came from, I will work to make sure that is not the case for long,” Alexis told the Washington Post. “I want girls like me to have even more opportunities than I had, even more support, and I will be reaching back, giving back, and pulling them forward.”
Alexis is just one of thousands of incredible Job Corps success stories.
As the national director of Job Corps, I’m new to this job – but not the important work we do in Job Corps and throughout the U.S. Department of Labor. For the past 23 years, I’ve served in many positions at the department, most recently as an associate administrator for the Wage and Hour Division. And before that, I was director of Job Corps’ budget division.
So I know just how important and impactful our work is to the young people we serve like Alexis, especially as we work toward an equitable and inclusive economy recovery. Last year the Pew Research Center shared a sobering analysis of the Job Corps age group that underscores why our work matters now more than ever: Among Americans ages 16-24, roughly 3 in 10 were neither in school nor at work. That translates into millions of young people who could benefit from the kind of free career training and education we provide.
And here’s where things get exciting: We’ve officially launched virtual enrollment! Students across the country who have opted to begin their orientation online are receiving their computers, hotspots and other supplies for a 60-day career preparation period before joining us on campus. Check out JobCorps.gov to learn more about the application process and the career paths we offer.
I speak for all of the center directors and Job Corps leadership when I say that we can’t wait to welcome new students in person again. Ultimately, our most important goal is to help students reach theirs – and help them learn the skills for well-paying jobs and a better life.