More than 30 graduates gathered at the Tony Rotino Center at the Cape Coral Yacht Club Friday, along with friends, family and honored guests as they received their diplomas and prepared to enter the workforce.
For about half, the workforce is waiting for them, as they had already secured entry-level jobs in the high-demand medical field, with salaries that will allow them to pay the bills and raise their families.
Sylvia Dorisme, president of SWVT, a private vocational school, said she was excited about the occasion, meant to celebrate the success of her students.
"We want them to go out and live their dreams and recognize their achievements. Our goal is to get them trained so they can work in a health-care setting," Dorisme said.
The school offers fast-paced medical training programs for medical assistants, phlebotomist technicians, patient-care technicians, home-health aides and more. These programs offer hands-on training for students that can put them to work in a matter of weeks.
"There's a great need for health care workers, and we try to target the programs that will lead to employment. Medical assistant is common, but hospitals also hire medical assistants," Dorisme said, adding that the school offers job assistance and employers come to recruit at the school.
One of them is Wendy Murray, who talked about the evolution of the healthcare industry and how the jobs the graduates are moving into will provide stability and better pay.
"Home health careers are a diverse and dynamic industry. About 15 million people have some kind of home health care," Murray said, adding that the passing of Medicare in 1965 grew the industry exponentially.
Kalasian Hall was one of those who walked that aisle and was very excited to start her journey that she hopes will end as a midwife.
"I went into this to see if this is what I really want to do. Working with the instructors, it's what I want," Hall said. "I like to see babies being born and families happy. I'm excited about my life."
Trevian Salter, the lone male graduating, said he was happy seeing so many accomplished people. He will go into phlebotomy and see if health care is right for him.
"We're ready to go into a new stage of our lives. I wanted to start something new for myself," Salter said. "I was working day jobs, but now, I'm good."
The school opened in 2009 in a 700-square-foot storefront before moving this year to a new 6,500-square-foot facility at 1200 Del Prado Blvd., South, with a satellite location in Bonita Springs.
Among those who attended and spoke were Cape City Councilmember Rana Erbrick; Ralph Santillo, founder of Invest in America Veterans Foundation; and keynote speaker Marie Tomlinson, one of the first graduates out of nearly 3,000 at SWVT, who talked about her journey from high school dropout to having a successful career and going for her bachelors degree.
The grads ranged in age from 17 to their 30s and 40s.
Graduate Naomi Whaley was super-excited to move on to the next phase of her life as a phlebotomist, happy with the quality of education she got.
"We had a great instructor named Layla. The school is great. I think I learned more in this class than in all my years in high school," Whaley said. "I'm going to be drawing blood and doing lab procedures. I'm going for my EKG in July, then I'll be going to work."
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