Career Training Institute Moves to New
Headquarters; Welcomes Visitors to Open House
Banks of new
computers and spacious, well-lit classrooms greet students at the
new headquarters of Mercer County Community College's Career Training
Institute (CTI). Following its recent move to a new site at the
Daylight-Twilight High School in Trenton, the center hosted an open
house on March 18 to highlight its services and facilities. Approximately
125 visitors toured the CTI's seven classrooms and administrative
and career counseling offices on the top two floors of the high
school, located down the street from Mercer's James Kerney Campus.
The CTI is enjoying its new home, according to Director Bob Estok.
He notes that all CTI students in both administrative and culinary
training programs take basic classes in English and math at the
site, while the administrative students spend all their time there.
(Culinary students train at the industrial kitchen at the James
Kerney Campus, where they prepare and serve meals for JKC's Center
The four-hour Open House gave guests an opportunity to tour the
facilities, meet staff and faculty, and learn more about the program.
Addressing a group of ESL students who visited from the Kerney Campus,
Estok stressed that the CTI program continues to have success putting
people to work. "We provide the entry level skills that get
you jobs," he told the group. Estok maintains that despite
the economic downturn, the job placement rate for CTI students in
Culinary and Office Professional remains high.
Estok explains that the office curriculum is designed to provide
both the basics and a specialized area of competency. Students take
courses in math, English, keyboarding and computer concepts. Then
they pick a specific area of concentration in either general secretarial,
medical, accounting, legal or pc applications.
According to accounting/keyboarding instructor Daisy Thomas, some
students may not know how to turn on a computer when they start
the program. "By the end, they are typing 50 words per minute.
Accounting is tougher, but we work really hard together. I'm best
teacher I know!" she says with a smile. Thomas teaches accounting
concepts manually first and then the class learns Quick Books and
Peach Tree. "We're teaching 2007 - the latest versions,"
Also covered in the Office Professional curriculum are the critical
people skills for the workplace. In a class called "Equipped
for the Future," students focus on communication, conflict
resolution, and establishing and attaining realistic goals.
Placement/career counselor Vanessa Silverman works to place students
in appropriate jobs. She also teaches a 20-hour program that covers
a wide range of job-related issues - personal values, networking,
interviewing, and preparing a resume.
For 27-year-old student Aisha Wimbush, MCCC's Career Training Institute
was a great way for her to train for an office job. Nearing completion
of the seven-month program, Wimbush has elected to concentrate in
the legal secretarial area and will soon start her job search with
specialized knowledge of legal terminology and business law.
"I've gotten help with my resume and learned the do's and don'ts
of interviewing," Wimbush said, adding that the idea of the
job search is now far less daunting. She says that CTI staff are
keeping her posted on job openings in her field.
Student Krystina Santos of Trenton is training to work in a medical
office, but has eventual plans to become a nurse. "I love to
help people," she says. Referred to CTI through the Mercer
County One-Stop Career Center, Santos recalls being nervous when
she started the program two months ago, but "I have learned
so much. My teachers have been great - really friendly and helpful."
There is also valuable camaraderie with other students. "We
socialize and help each other," Santos says.
graduation, CTI students earn a certificate. And that's the piece
of paper that helps employment agencies like Joule Business Services
in Hamilton feel confident in sending them out to clients.
According to Joule Branch Manager Palma Patrocinio-Matos, who attended
the Open House, her firm is looking for the best job candidates.
"We try to capture CTI's graduating class. These grads have
an advantage over those who haven't been through a training program.
CTI prepares students with many marketable skills including training
in the latest computer software. It's an attractive, professional
atmosphere for students to learn in." She also applauds the
portion of the curriculum that covers such topics as workplace wardrobes,
interviewing skills and communication.
Aisha Wimbush hard at work
in one of CTI's new classrooms.
staff includes from left, Sharol Hobbs, Viola Baulkman, Daisy Thomas,
Barry Kirsch, Gwen Lockhart,
Director Bob Estok and Vanessa Hunter Silverman
explains CTI benefits and services
to a group of visiting ESL students.
instructor Daisy Thomas takes students from beginner to proficient.
Morreale teaches "Equipped for the Future."
Alfonsie Holland received his CTI certificate and is ready for the
workplace. He is pictured with Sharol Hobbs, who teaches office
Viola Baulkman (in purple) provides
one-on-one instruction in MS Office software.
notes that CTI is all about student success. "We do not fail anybody;
we help students succeed," Estok said. The training is free for those
who are referred through the One-Stop Center. Those not eligible for the
free tuition can apply for a Pell Grant, which pays seventy-five percent
of the cost of the $4,000 program. With an open door, CTI allows students
to begin at any time and learn in small classes with an emphasis on individualized
instruction. Prerequisites include a high school diploma or GED; non-native
English speakers may need to take ESL classes first. Once a student graduates
from the program, he or she is still entitled to come back to brush up
on skills or for career development advice.
Additionally, graduates are offered a free, three-credit course to continue
their education at MCCC. "It's a chance to try out college,"
Estok says. He estimates that half of CTI students continue on at Mercer
to earn their associate degree. "I tell students that education is
the key to success. The more you learn, the higher your income will be."
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