OTTUMWA — Job Corps students took a break from their studies Wednesday to do some pull-ups and climb behind the wheel of a humvee. The first Armed Forces Career Day gives students a day to learn more about a possible career defending the United States.
"We have all the branches here — the Navy, Marines, the Army and the Air Force — and what it's really doing is exposing the students to possible career opportunities they can pursue," said Center Directer Mark Douglas.
All 245 students took time from their courses to visit with recruiters in the gymnasium of the recreation center, to gain hands on experience with the vehicles and take a break from the sun under a military-grade tent. Douglas explained that due to the success of the event, recruiters will come to campus twice a year for the fair. A semi-annual event is necessary because Job Corps has open enrollment, meaning that students enroll and depart at different times throughout the year.
"We might have one student a month that decides to mark the military their career," said Douglas. "We don't push them in that direction we just give them opportunities that may spark their interest."
Upon entry into Job Corps, all students are required to take the ASVAB test, which initially opens the door to the armed forces. The exam is offered to high school and post-secondary students to provide a tool for career exploration and planning.
Teddy Muse, 20, took the ASVAB exam seven months ago when he enrolled at the Ottumwa Job Corps Center and was pleased to see that his results were high enough for him to apply to the Navy. Must explained that he has always wanted to be in the Navy because it many members of his family had been and it "seemed like the right fit."
"More than anything, I want to be able to come back home and hug my dad and say that I followed in his footsteps," explained Muse. "I just really want to make him proud."
Muse is on the road to making his dad proud; he traveled to Ottumwa from Columbia, Missouri, to be able to better his life and provide for his father after he had fallen ill. During his short time at the Job Corps Center, Muse is nearing completion of his General Educational Development (GED) and is now a certified logistics technician and a certified logistics assistant.
In November, Muse will join the Navy and travel to Great Lakes, Illinois, for basic training and begin his service. There are many incentives that appealed him, but he is most excited to be able to "travel the world."
Job Corps offers quality educational opportunities for disadvantaged young people. Through the program they are able to complete their GED, go through Driver's Education, become certified in a trade of their choice, go into the armed forces and much more. Since the Ottumwa campus opened three years ago, hundreds of students have celebrated opportunities and academic success.
"Since coming to Job Corps, I have been able to realize that I can do anything I want to," explained Muse.
— Danielle Lunsford is a staff writer at the Ottumwa Courier and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org