Sherrinita Caldwell of Kinston wanted to finish what she started a few years ago, her college degree. Married, separated and a single mother of two children, she was a housewife for some years. She moved from Waldorf, MD to Kinston in 2019 to help care for her mother who was battling cancer. Her mother’s health improved, and Caldwell decided to enroll in the Early Childhood Program at Lenoir Community College.
She had previously attended college, but had no financial assistance to cover her final semester until she discovered the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Adult Program. She was hired by WIOA Career Advisor Ika Grant and was told about the benefits of the program. She enrolled in the WIOA Adult Program and received help with tuition and books last semester. Caldwell maintained an A average in her classes while working part time with the Lenoir County Public School System. She also completed an internship while earning her degree.
Caldwell was persistent and consistent in achieving his educational goals. “I knew that my children depended on me and failure was not an option,” she said. “I had a bit of trouble with my public speaking course because I was nervous, but I quickly gained the confidence I needed and finished the course with an A.”
While working part time, she became a mentor to first, second, and fifth graders at the school and worked as an interventionist. She said that she loved working with children and helping them overcome peer pressure, self-esteem issues, and any other issue that affected their educational needs or her state of mind.
Grant said that Caldwell had a special bond with children and could tell if something was wrong. “She instructed them and took the time to make sure they understood her work and could complete it without her help,” she said.
Caldwell’s efforts did not go unnoticed by the staff, as they saw that the nurturing relationship Caldwell had with the children produced outstanding results in the classroom. She was offered a full-time position after finishing school. She graduated cum laude from LCC with an Early Childhood degree in May. She earned a 4.0 GPA during her last semester. Four days later, on May 9, she began her full-time first grade teacher’s aide/bus driver position with Lenoir County Public Schools.
She said seeing her children walk across the stage to receive their degree was the highlight of the night for her. She added that she enjoyed this journey and was glad that she followed her heart into this career. She said that being in her WIOA program helped her keep up with her classes. She gave her the opportunity to share with her WIOA career advisor, Ika Grant, any concerns she might have or any help she needed to be successful in school and find a job.
“Mrs. Grant is amazing. She kept me focused because she understood that being a mom and trying to be successful in school is hard but it can be done. Mrs. Grant gave me the tools I needed to stay focused and keep pushing through to achieve.” all the goals we set together,” he said. “She helped me feel confident in my speech class and achieve my goal of an A. She provided me with resources to help me with my resume to be successful in my career. She was very helpful and understanding.”
Caldwell recommends the WIOA program especially to single mothers who need help achieving their goals. “It’s a great program to get help with training needs and getting paid employment opportunities.”