April 29, 2016, Blue Bell, Pa.—Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) held a graduation ceremony on April 28 to recognize the achievements of 23 students who successfully completed the Partnership on Work Enrichment and Readiness (POWER) program.
The POWER program helps individuals in mental health recovery to successfully develop and reach their education and career goals through a two-credit college course that focuses on time management, basic computer skills, study skills, public speaking, college success skills, career assessment, resume writing and professionalism.
Through the POWER program, students gain confidence and skills they need to take the next steps in their lives. For the recent graduating class, approximately 75 percent of the students will enroll in classes for the fall semester, one student will continue her education at a four-year college and the remaining students will be receiving employment services through the POWER Plus Employment program, said program Director Lisa Barbiero.
“For the first time, we will be offering a summer enrichment program for all our POWER students and graduates, and we are inviting 10 years’ worth of alumni to join us for this program,” Barbiero announced during the ceremony.
As part of the celebration, several POWER graduates shared their stories, describing the challenges they overcame in their lives and how the POWER program provides the self-assurance and skills they will need in the future.
One student, William Bannerman-Martin, Jr., spoke about the trials he faced living with autism.
“I was diagnosed when I was four years old and received services through the Montgomery County Intermediate Unit,” he shared. “When I started school, I was bussed to different schools throughout the county where special education classes were available. After I graduated, I needed a program to help me, and I enrolled in the POWER program, where I learned to be confident.”
Bannerman-Martin plans to continue his education after graduation here at MCCC. He is still exploring his career options.
The positive impact of the POWER program was obvious with graduate Ruth Barnard, who now wants to give back by starting a recovery house where she can help others and introduce them to POWER.
As part of the ceremony, 15 students were recognized for their continuing achievements in completing academic courses and participating weekly in the POWER Plus Education program. Several of these students also attended the POWER Plus Employment program. In addition, one student who started in the POWER program in 2010, Jacob Shaw, was honored because he will receive his associate's degree on May 19 and another student, Sandy Beitler, will complete her certificate in Hotel and Restaurant Management.
The POWER team includes Director Lisa Barbiero, Community Liaison Lori Schreiber, Employment and Grant Coordinator Tarsha Scovens, Academic Specialist Holly Harris, Peer Mentor George Rohde, Faculty Byron Goldstein, Faculty Rosemary Regan and Dean of Social Sciences Division Aaron Shatzman.
The POWER Program is funded by the Pew Charitable Trust, Montgomery County Office of Behavioral Health, the Odd Fellows of Philadelphia, Pat Kind Family Foundation and Montgomery County Community College.
- Diane VanDyke
Montgomery County Community College recently hosted a graduation ceremony to honor 23 individuals who completed the College’s Partnership on Work Enrichment and Readiness (POWER) program, as well as students who participated in the POWER Plus Education and Employment programs. Photo by Sandi Yanisko