Ricardo Zamora (Rural Minnesota CEP, Inc.)
Ricky applied for the Youth Program when he was 14 years old and in grade 9. The first time I met Ricky, he was very shy and quiet. He hardly spoke above a whisper, but he wanted a job to earn and save money. He was also interested in the Youth WIA Program because he knew he wanted to go to college after he graduated from high school and was hoping to be awarded some financial aid from RMCEP. He has always been a forward thinking, goal oriented young man!
Ricky learned the basic work skills and while maturing on the job, I also worked with him on his communication skills. During the school year, he worked at the elementary school in the custodial department and the teachers were very supportive and appreciative of his efforts which strengthened his confidence. They knew him well as a very quiet former student and were encouraging in social interactions after school while he worked there.
Ricky was not involved in any school activities or organizations due to his shyness and the cost of activity fees that his family could not easily afford (single parent family of 8). He was interested in playing soccer when that became a school sport. Knowing it would be beneficial for him to be involved in a peer activity, a team member and assist in further development of social and leadership skills as well as self-esteem and motor skills, RMCEP paid for his activity fees. He had a natural talent and skill set on the soccer field and he immediately earned the respect of his teammates. He continued to be on the soccer team throughout his high school career and was a captain of the team his junior and senior year.
Ricky continued to develop leadership skills as a lead worker at his job and on the soccer team and was an excellent role model to the new youth workers who joined the program. He taught them by example of what good work ethic is and good basic work skills. As Ricky entered his junior and senior years at the high school, we talked more about his ambitions after graduation. He was always an excellent student in all of the classes and his interests were concentrated in math and science. His supervisor and I created a new job description for him in working in more of the mechanical operations of the school facility and he was able to work with the person who was in charge of that so he could learn more. That person was a good mentor to Ricky as well and wanted to introduce and teach as much as he could to Ricky while he was still a student there. From our discussions, CAI assessment, interviews with engineers, Ricky decided to major in Civil Engineering when he enrolled at NDSU. He excelled in his classes and was very serious about doing well in every class at NDSU. The last two summers, Ricky was offered internships in the Fargo area with engineering firms so did not return to his family home very often. Our communication was mostly via email and a few telephone conversations. Although Ricky has progressed dramatically in his communication skills, he is still true to his quiet personality and does not use a variety of adjectives or make a lot of small talk! He does speak with more articulation and volume though!
Ricky is a perfect example of what the WIA Youth Program is all about and the benefits of being a part of the long term, intensive services that the WIA Program was designed for. He graduated from NDSU May 10, 2013 and accepted a position in an engineering firm, doing what he dreamed about and worked hard for. A goal he set back in grade 9, eight years ago, when he said he wanted to save money for college has been attained. Ricky is a very bright, responsible, high achieving, productive adult now well on his way to more success.
P.O. Box 1108
Detroit Lakes, MN 56502