Learn and Earn program gives student new lease on life

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wilsonThe West Virginia University at Parkersburg Learn and Earn partnership with DuPont Washington Works continues to provide a successful means to meet the area’s growing demand for qualified manufacturing workers. The training and experience received during the one-year degree certificate program enabled graduate John Wilson to make a vital career change.

Wilson initially entered college right after high school. However, watching his older brother, Stephen Wilson, graduate from basic training inspired him to follow suit and join the military. He served three years in the Army National Guard before going to active duty for more than three years and completing one tour in Iraq. After his military career, Wilson began working at a small local manufacturing plant and started a family.

While the birth of his son Tucker proved to be an extraordinary gift, his life was anything but easy. His marriage ended and his current job did not provide a livable wage. In May 2012 at age 26, Wilson knew he needed to make a change. He quit his job and enrolled in the Learn and Earn program.

Sponsored by the Community and Technical College Education System of West Virginia, WVU Parkersburg’s Learn and Earn partnership with DuPont Washington Works first began in February 2012. The program alternates three-month cycles of classroom learning at WVU Parkersburg with hands-on work rotations at DuPont. Students earn approximately $11,500 through the paid work experience and graduate with a degree certificate of applied science in chemical and polymer operator technology.

“Being able to attend a veteran friendly school and collect my GI Bill was a huge help—especially with having a son and paying bills” said Wilson. “The best part about the GI Bill was that you could continue to use it while completing the work experience portion and not just during your classes.”

After only a month after completing the program, he interviewed with DuPont and was hired as a full-time process operator. After more than a year on the job, Wilson now owns his own home and is marrying the love of his life this October.

“Everything has fallen into place,” said Wilson. “This program helped move me into a career opportunity that otherwise would not have been possible. The teachers were very knowledgeable, and it was great to know that they had practical experience. They knew what was going on at area plants and, as a result, what to teach you. I am extremely grateful for the knowledge and hands-on experience that this program offered.”

The October 2014 Learn and Earn class still has openings. Spots are limited, and students must meet the minimum qualifications to be accepted. Eligible students are encouraged to apply. Visit wvup.edu/LearnandEarn or call 304.424.8277 for more information.

Posted in Academic Affairs, Career Services and Cooperative Education, General News, Workforce & Community Education