Posted July 19, 2021
Lorain County Community College is continuing to offer nearly 30 free short-term certifications for the upcoming fall 2021 semester. The college’s Fast Track program allows students to retrain in high-demand fields like business, computer and information technology, manufacturing, and healthcare in 16 weeks or less, and tuition free.
“Early in the pandemic, we understood the critical need for dislocated workers to quickly retrain and gain industry-recognized credentials that will help them find meaningful employment,” says LCCC president Marcia Ballinger, Ph.D. “To meet this need we quickly scaled up our short-term certificate programs in in-demand pathways, giving students the power to change their lives in weeks, not years.”
Since fall 2020, 811 people completed LCCC’s Fast Track programs, making a tangible impact on minority communities hit hardest by the pandemic and economic crisis. Among the program graduates, 13% are Hispanic/Latino and 12% are Black/African American.
Simone Yalanty, who was laid off from a job as a machine operator due to COVID-19 in spring 2020, decided to use the unexpected time off to change careers. She enrolled in the Fast Track program to earn a short-term certificate in Computer Information Systems – Software Development. She says the program’s flexibility made it easy to remain enrolled, even when she was rehired by her employer.
“For other busy people, especially adults like myself who work and have other obligations, this is the best opportunity I could have ever asked for,” Yalanty says. “I’m on my way to a brighter future than I thought I’d get, and it gives me motivation to keep going.”
Yalanty graduated in December 2020 and hopes to begin working in the software development industry while continuing her education to earn her associate degree in the same field. Much like Yalanty, 51% of Fast Track graduates have continued their education at LCCC within 12 months of completing their short-term certificate.
“We built each Fast Track program area in a way that easily stacks with additional certificates and associate degrees,” says Michelle Pawlak, Fast Track program advisor. “This makes it easy for students to continue their education.”
Pathways to bachelor’s and master’s degrees are also available through LCCC’s University Partnership, which is where the Fast Track program led Gregory Stocker. After being laid off due to COVID-19 in 2020, Stocker enrolled in a 16-week program for software development.
Just one credit shy of an associate degree from prior schooling, Stocker then continued his education to complete his degree and graduated in May 2021 with his associate of applied business in network communications degree. Now he plans to study Computer Information Systems at The University of Akron through LCCC’s University Partnership.
“LCCC was very helpful, compassionate, and welcoming to me at a time when I was not sure what the future would hold,” he says of the Fast Track program.
For some students, earning a short-term certificate in just 16 weeks provides the financial security they need to continue their education in a related field, as well as a boost to their academic confidence.
Rhiki Nealy graduated from Elyria High School in June 2014 and attended LCCC the next week. She didn’t have a specific career goal in mind and as a result, her time at LCCC was on and off for a few years. The uncertainty of her future started to weigh on Nealy, so she enrolled in the Fast Track Medical Coding program to find a quick pathway to an in-demand job.
Nealy graduated from the program in December 2020 and is continuing at LCCC in the fall to earn an associate degree with a focus on psychology. She plans to enroll at Cleveland State University through the University Partnership next to earn her bachelor’s degree. Nealy hopes to become a clinical psychologist one day but knows her immediate future is secure with her certification in medical coding.
“The Fast Track program gave me the opportunity to save money and time since I could complete it in just one semester,” Nealy says. “It got straight to what I needed for a job, so I have that to count on while I finish my degree.”
To learn more about the Fast Track programs, attend an information session at 10 a.m. on July 21 or July 28. Learn more or register for an information session online or call (440) 366-4856.