“We weren’t poor; we were middle class,” Travis Gibson recalls as he reflects on his childhood spent living in Ohio.  It wasn’t until his parents separated and he and his mother moved to Kentucky that Travis experienced financial troubles.  Travis and his mother moved several times to various Kentucky counties before settling in the Woollum area of Knox County to be close to family.
When he was 18 he came seeking help from KCEOC’s Workforce Investment Program after hearing about the Work Experience Program. When he first came into the office he had dropped out of High School and only had a 10th grade education. Travis enrolled in the Out of School Youth Program in October 2012. This program offers a broad range of services to young people between the ages of 16 and 21.  These services include opportunities for assistance with academic or job-related learning, developing leadership skills, preparing for further education, and eventual employment.

Travis’ first activity after enrolling was participating in the Work Experience portion of the program. He obtained 6 hours of work readiness training and then began his placement at KCEOC’s Maintenance department. Travis was a good worker with excellent supervisory reviews and he really enjoyed his work. When the program ended (after he had worked his maximum of 320 hours) his career advisor encouraged him to begin working on his GED.
Travis attended study sessions at Knox County Adult Education and obtained his GED in March 2013. After obtaining his GED, Travis enrolled into welding classes at Southeast Community and Technical College, with the Out of School Youth Program assisting with his tuition. He has now completed one year (2 semesters) of his Welding Technology degree and currently has a 3.57 GPA.   He plans to continue the program in the fall of 2014 and finish with his degree in the spring of 2015.

His future goals are to obtain his Welding Technology Degree and obtain employment as a welder. He’s already received a job offer contingent on completion of his training.  Travis is excited about this promising opportunity that would allow him to travel all over the United States and hopes to someday open his own welding fabrication shop.

“Travis is a highly dependable, motivated person who with the encouragement and assistance through the program has already exceeded some of his life goals and has the potential to obtain a successful career,” says Travis’ Career Advisor, Ali Hill (pictured left with Travis).  “He is a prime example of how the Out of School youth program can be very beneficial to the participant as long as they put forth the effort and maintain a good relationship with their career advisor. His future is bright!”

When asked how he has benefited most from the program he says, “Getting my education. I had never planned on getting my GED or going to college. [The staff at KCEOC] really pushed me and encouraged me.”

KCEOC’s Out of School Program will continue to assist with his tuition while he completes his degree.