A better life

Published 1:25 am Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tiffany and Mark Rhodes have taken advantage of workforce training opportunities provided by the state of Alabama and are working to build a future for themselves and their 4-year-old son.

With the exception of Mark’s mom, the young couple are the first members of either of their families to enroll in college.

With her GED completed, Tiffany planned to continue her education when the couple’s son, Michael, got a little bit older. Late summer of 2008, she walked into the LBWCC Luverne Center for more information and met Herald “Bubba” Taylor, who directs the Ready to Work Program.

Taylor suggested that Tiffany enroll in the program so that she could brush up on reading, math and English skills. She began the program in September and graduated in November 2008.

She then enrolled in college classes on LBWCC’s MacArthur Campus in Opp with the goal of helping others upon graduation. After considering a health-related profession, Tiffany selected the diagnostic medical sonography program, which made its LBWCC debut in January. She is currently enrolled in required pre-requisite courses with plans to begin actual sonography classes this January.

Traveling to Opp every day presented a new set of challenges. Laid-off from his job in December, 2008 and out-of work until May, Mark provided child care while Tiffany was in school. During his time of unemployment and with additional family assistance, Mark followed Tiffany’s lead and enrolled in the Ready to Work program in Luverne. He earned his GED in May 2009.

During this time Mark discovered he enjoyed and was good in math. After encouragement from LBWCC faculty and staff, Mark is now in the first semester of the industrial electronics program.

His instructor, Tracy Bundrick, said, “Mark has the qualities you look for in a student; he listens, asks questions, is punctual, and calls me if he has a question. The interest he exhibits is an indication he takes his educational opportunities seriously.”

Both Tiffany and Mark receive financial aid and Tiffany plans to apply for a Workforce Investment Act (WIA) grant in the spring.

Both said that getting an education has been worth the effort.

“There were times last winter when I had to wrap up in two blankets as I drove to class because the heater in the car didn’t work,” Tiffany said. “I just want people to realize that no matter how hard it gets, you don’t give up because an education is worth achieving.”

For information on the Ready to Work Program contact Taylor on the LBWCC Luverne Center at 334-335-2187. Additional information about LBW Community College can be found on the college website at www.lbwcc.edu or call 334-222-6591.