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Students from correctional facilities graduate from 15-week NWTC program

Each graduate received a certificate in Industrial Maintenance
Posted at 6:22 PM, Aug 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-10 19:53:33-04

GREEN BAY (NBC26) — A graduation ceremony celebrating 11 students might seem small for a graduating class, but no matter the class size, this moment proves to be a game-changer for the new graduates.

Elias Maldanado is one of the students and he says graduating from Northeastern Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) is the best experience of his life and serves as a new starting point.

"There were times in this course where I did not think I was going to make it," Maldanado said. "It was hard, it was really hard, but when we did (complete it) and the teachers were here and I was able to them I was up here because of them ... It's absolutely life-changing what they're doing here."

The 15-week program introduced its fourth cohort Thursday afternoon and the program focuses on serving incarcerated individuals in preparing them for employment through the Department of Corrections as they about to be released.

At the end of the program, graduates receive a certificate in Industrial Maintenance.

Additionally, the credits received throughout the program will also go towards an Electro-Mechanical Associate degree.

Jim Draeger, Dean of Corporate Training and Economy, has three words that describe the program: "Best case scenario."

"We're investing in our students in up-skilling them so they can find employment as soon as they're released," Draeger said. "What this offers our students is the opportunity into an entry-level automation, industrial maintenance position and this is a job that's just the launchpad and just the starting point for them to grow and extend their career."

The investment in this year's class saw high-achieving numbers in grade point average with a class average of 92 percent. The top student in the group earned 97%.

Molly Dellsart is an Electro-Mechanical instructor at NWTC. She taught three out of the 15 weeks in the program.

She met with the group prior to the ceremony to celebrate their accomplishments.

"I'm all smiles," Dellsart said. "At night, they would all get together and still work on schoolwork besides the six hours we got together every day and they did this for 15 weeks."

Aside from the hands-on training, the group also learned about gaining and maintaining employment along with valuable interviewing skills.