top of page

Making a Positive Impact

Kasey first came to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program on August 1st, 2019. She was a student at Arkansas State University and was in need of assistance in order to continue her training. She enrolled with Career Specialist Jamie Hill on August 8th, 2019 as a low income parent. Kasey was working part time and her family received SNAP benefits. She received other financial aid sources including Pell and student loans but was still in need of assistance. The WIOA program provided her with tuition assistance so she could continue her education.

Kasey attended Arkansas State University for two more semesters and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Early Education in May of 2020. Although her graduation ceremony was cancelled due to Covid-19, she was very excited to have graduated. Kasey received a job offer from Augusta Schools, which she accepted. Kasey continued to work part time while waiting for the new school year until the business she worked for closed down.   Her career specialist was able to assist her with information on unemployment.

Kasey started at Augusta schools in August of 2020. The 2020-2021 school year has offered many trials. The first half of the year contained not only the Covid-19 pandemic but a school lockdown due to a shooting in the area and an inland hurricane. Kasey has stayed positive and enjoyed her job through all of this. Kasey truly enjoys her job and is thankful for the assistance that the WIOA program was able to offer. She has decided now to further her career and to re-enroll in school to go for her Master of Science in Education and is scheduled to begin in June of 2021.

"The WIOA program helped me successfully finish my degree by reducing my financial burden. It was impossible to work full time while completing my Teacher Internship. I am so grateful this program was available to help me make ends meet until I graduated. I am now happily employed at Augusta School."

Kasey Orellana.jpg

Kyla was a stay-at-home mom for fourteen years while her children were young, and her husband supported them. After they were old enough to look after each other during the day, she decided to attend the nursing program at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville.

While attending school, she and her husband separated and he no longer supported her financially. She lived with friends until she could get back on her feet.

After Kyla applied for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program, it was determined she was eligible as a displaced homemaker. She was finishing up the training required to be a registered nurse. WIOA was able to assist her with tuition, testing fees, and fuel. She graduated on December 6, 2019, with a job already lined up. In January, she began her new career as a registered nurse. Now, Kyla and her children are able to live on their own.

Julia came to me on July 24th. She was a 59 year old receiving SNAP benefits. She was working

part‐time as a home health nurse. Julia was interested in going to school at Level 1 Driving Academy to

obtain her CDL, but she did not have the available funding to attend the training. After completing

all the necessary paperwork, she was enrolled into the WIOA program on August 5th. Julia was able

to begin classes on August 12th. After completing 160 hours, she graduated with her CDL on October

29th. Julia said the help she received from the WIOA program was very beneficial.

While Julia was attending school, her hours were cut and she had to go on unemployment. After

graduation, she was able to find another job in home health while trying to find employment that

would utilize her CDL. On April 27th, Julia went to work for National Carriers. She now has her

dream job as a long haul truck driver and is loving life. When asked how she felt about the WIOA

program, she said that she is so thankful for everything. Julia absolutely loved the training that

she went through and would highly recommend Level 1 Driving Academy to anyone who was interested in receiving CDL training. This program has given Julia a chance to not only have a job but a career

that she can one day retire from.


Jamie Hill, White County Career Specialist


It is my distinct pleasure to share this success story of one of my first participants on the WIOA

Program.  Dale “Hawk” came to us on June 20, 2019.  He was a troubled youth who came to us for work

experience. We were able to put him on at the University of Arkansas Community College at

Batesville (UACCB) as a grounds keeper. He worked full time and did an outstanding job. Every time

I did a worksite visit he was working hard and his supervisor always spoke highly of him.


While Hawk was on work experience, he signed up for the welding program at UACCB. He began his

training in Aug of 2019 and by December he completed his

Certificate of Proficiency. He continued to work part time while attending school. Due to his

positive attitude and willingness to succeed, Hawk was hired as a welder at Bad Boy Mowers, making

outstanding money with lots of overtime. Within 60 days of employment, Hawk received his first pay

increase for performance. I can’t speak highly enough about this youth.  Hawk is a good man with a

great attitude.  I am proud to have been a part of his success!


Antonio Garcia Jr, Youth Career Specialist

Jeremy first came to visit with Career Specialist Ronda Ivy in February 2016 in Cleburne County. He brought his wife, Erin, and baby daughter. He was a student at Arkansas State University Beebe, Searcy campus. He was not working and his family received SNAP benefits. He and his wife were both students. He had begun the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) program and wanted to work in the health care field. He received other financial aid sources including Pell Grant, Career Pathways, scholarships, and student loans to pay school expenses and help with living cost. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program provided him with rental support so he could continue his education.

Jeremy completed his EMT in May 2016. He began working for North Star Ambulance Service. During his training for EMT, he decided he wanted to further his education so he would be able to help more people, and also to provide for his family without the struggle of earning less than was needed to get by. He loved the health care field and wanted to learn all he could. He enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) at the University of Central Arkansas in the fall of 2016. Jeremy was determined to reach this goal so he would have better job opportunities and make a living that could bring his family to self-sufficiency. He continued to work for North Star part-time when his schedule and studying would allow. WIOA continued to provide assist him with supportive services, tuition, and fees.

Jeremy pursued his career goal with such persistence that nothing was going to stop him. He and Erin welcomed 2 more baby girls. He consistently made excellent grades, always had a positive attitude, and loved to tell about what he had learned in class. He knew this was not only his goal, but also his calling.

Jeremy completed his BSN May 2, 2020, graduating Magna Cum Laude. He was awarded the Undergraduate Clinical Excellence Award in 2019. On his graduation power point, he quoted Winston Churchill “Difficulties mastered are opportunities won”. Jeremy began his new career at Conway Regional Medical Center in May, 2020. He has not only accomplished what he set out to do, but has begun a new journey that will lead to a successful career in the medical field as he strives to be the best registered nurse Conway Regional has ever hired. 

Jeremy Duncan.jpg
Jeremy Duncan2.jpg

Jake is a young husband and father of five. He had attended UACCM right out of high school but did not complete a certificate or degree. He had been unemployed over a year when he came to WIOA. He had been recovering from a back injury. When he was ready to work again his employer did not have a job for him within the state and Jake was not able to leave at that time for family reasons.  He was attending the Arkansas Elite Welding Academy in the Elite Pipe Welding program when he applied for WIOA. He had discovered that the welding field offered employment opportunities that would pay higher than average wages. He enjoyed welding and he could provide for his family in the occupation. He knew he would most likely have to go out of state to earn these wages but he was willing. WIOA provided tuition assistance for part of his training cost to the academy. He completed his Certificate in Elite Pipe Welding in January 2019. He went to work in February for Fagen, Inc. doing a welding job in Pierre, South Dakota. He earned $32 an hour and also received per diem. He averaged about $2185 a week. Since then he has also worked in Louisiana and Pennsylvania. He has had some breaks between jobs but it has been an overall positive experience for him from getting the training at the academy to going to work for the wages he had only dreamed of making. He is glad he made the decision to pursue his goal and succeeded in a career he enjoys. His wife commented that the Arkansas Elite Welding Academy and WIOA are working together to change lives!

"Brennan Medcalf was my first person to attend the Diesel Driving academy.  His last Job was for the City of Little Rock making $10.00 an hour.  He lives alone and thought that becoming a truck driver would help him lead to financial success.  He basically wanted to become a truck driver to make more money.  He graduated the program in June, 2019.  He initially had a hard time finding employment and ended up taking a Job Driving a cement truck for a company out on Ohio working here in Arkansas.  The Trouble was that most over the road companies want experience drivers so he accepted that reality and took a different type of driving job to gain the experience.  He said when he is not delivering concrete that drives the water truck.  He is happy with success and plans on gaining experience and driving over the road.   He earns $20.00 an hour now which is double from his last job.  He has a great attitude and a strong willingness to succeed.  I am proud to work with Brennan.  I wish all my participants had his attitude."

Antonio Garcia, Jr.

WIOA Program Youth Career Specialist

Brennan Metcalf.jpg
Chris Torres.jpg

Chris was unemployed when he came into the Searcy Workforce Center back in December. He had barriers to employment which made it hard for him to find work. He wanted to be a truck driver, but did not have the funds to pay for the training. He applied for WIOA assistance and was approved. He began classes on the 17 of December and had his certificate and CDL on the 11th of January! The very next week, he started his new job at Core Transport. Here is what he has to say about his experience with WIOA:


 "On the 6th of December I came into the office of Ms. Vanessa Rodriguez and asked for help.  She then eagerly helped me in more than what was expected, at which time I chose the Level 1 Driving Academy and took all the (eligibility) tests necessary. I was later called by Ms. Rodriguez and told to meet Ms. Tami Hayes for my class schedule.  After meeting Ms. Tami, I showed up on my class date to meet Mr. Jerry Dawson, Ms. Tami and Mr. Jerry over a five week period would be called Moms and Pops. I really enjoyed my classmates and teachers. This is been a great experience. I recently graduated from the program and Ms. Tami (Moms) found me employment and I'm now headed to Kansas City to make some money. I do want to thank Ms. Rodriguez, Ms. Tami Hayes, and Mr. Jerry Dawson with all my heart.


Sincerely, Christopher Torres"

Susan was a volunteer at the Salem Senior Center. While she was volunteering, she learned about the WIOA Dislocated Worker Program and was enrolled in the program.

Because of the professional manner in which she performed her work duties, St. Bernard's Hospital offered her a full-time position with a pay increase and benefits for a driver position at the Salem Senior Center. When the position as coordinator of the Brockwell Senior Center became available, she applied and was hired. Recently, White River Health Systems (WRHS) acquired the senior centers in this area. Because of Susan's impressive work history, WRHS retained her as the Brockwell Senior Center Coordinator.


Robin Stone, WRHS area supervisor, stated, "We are blessed to have Susan. She is the perfect example of a success story."


Susan said, "Thanks to the WIOA program I have found a new calling and found a new and rewarding career with WRHS."

Faith Berry.jpg

Faith heard about the WIOA Out of School Youth program from a friend's mother when she was 16. She had completed her High School Diploma in December 2016. She had worked for about 2 ½ months at Sonic but did not get enough hours to barely pay for fuel. She knew she wanted more. She had a goal of getting a job that was more hours and steady. She was undecided about college but also knew an education was the best way to earn a living wage. Her WIOA case manager placed her at Main St Kids Daycare in Shirley. It was close to her home and fit her love of children. She worked for 1040 work hours and began college classes in August 2017 at ASU Beebe. She decided to work for a degree in Early Childhood Education. The Main St Kids Daycare hired her when she completed the program. She is still working there. She has 2 college classes during the Fall 2018 semester. When asked about the WIOA program she said she loved the program. It helped her get experience and skills and encouraged her to enroll in college. She decided that she should get a degree that will lead to her dream job. She would recommend the program to youth who are looking for a way to better their life but have trouble doing it on their own. She is not there yet but is definitely a success based on her progress so far.

Roger said he was skipping from job to job and didn’t like any of them. He knew what he wanted to do but he couldn’t afford the training. Roger wanted to be a truck driver just like his father who was a 20 year veteran.

“I was always around it and enjoyed it,” Roger said of truck driving.

Then one day Roger heard about the WIOA program and how they would pay for his training.

Roger completed the four week course at ASU-Newport and was immediately hired by the company his father worked for.  The company had him ride with a trainer for the first six weeks and lucky for Roger it was someone he already knew – his father.

The father-son team now drive coast to coast.

“The truck never stops rolling. We’re always going,” Roger said. “I love it.”

The WIOA program helped Roger achieve his dream.

“I thank y’all,” he said. “I appreciate it.”

truck driving qualify.jpg
CVSD grants update Justin Lopez Jason Wh

Jason is a 34-year-old father with two children and a spouse to support. He desperately needed a job to provide for his family. Due to no fault of his own, he had been laid off and could not find work.

After applying for training assistance with WIOA in 2016, he was placed at Cherokee Village's Street Department in an on-the-job training program. Jason quickly learned the skills necessary to be an asset to the department. He is currently an equipment operator and is working on his CDL license. Jason is thankful for his job, and the Cherokee Village Street Department is pleased to have a good worker.  This was a win-win for employer and employee.

Andrew was a WIOA participant who was placed at the Jim Hinkle Arkansas State Fish Hatchery in Mammoth Spring September 6, 2016. His duties included fish maintenance, feeding and disinfection. Andrew proved to be an effective worker who was always punctual, dependable, and well-liked by his colleagues. Melissa Jones, his supervisor, and Andrew stated that they believe that WIOA helped him to be successful at his job. Andrew said, "They could see how hard I worked while I was in training. I am very happy to have had W\OA give me this chance to better my life and that of my family." He was hired in March, 2017, as a part-time technician at the hatchery. Andrew stated that he believed that educational instruction in the area of jobs and interview skills helped him get the job.

The Workforce Center in Searcy is proud to partner with Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, also known as WIOA. The Workforce Center has a WIOA Case Manager housed in the center. Together with DWS staff, services are provided to White County residents who may need training, supportive services, work experience or a referral to other partners.  We also work at community events jointly to promote services offered through the Workforce Center.

The Workforce Center in Searcy is one of two Comprehensive Workforce Centers in the North Central Workforce Development area.  We take pride in the work and service we are able to provide our customers through the partnership with WIOA. Together we are able to better leverage resources and improve the quality of service to customers which in turn creates workforce solutions that meet the needs of our employers. We are working to improve the quality of job seekers’ skills, affording them the ability to find employment in our community.  A more qualified workforce generates more businesses and more businesses create more revenue to grow our communities.   A well trained workforce will also enhance productivity and a higher level of competitiveness for our State. 

The Workforce Center is also a training site for those who may benefit from Work Experience.  Participants of these programs can train for up to 6 months in areas of providing customer service, developing telephone etiquette and working with the public.  People skills and soft skills are nurtured and gained.  The participant is also in a great location to find employment which will lead to self- sufficiency.  The program is a win, win for everyone.

bottom of page