Graduation day for 15 students who completed the Individualized Career Achievement Network or iCAN program run by Kapiʻolani Community College in partnership with the McKinley Community School for Adults.

The free, fast track career training program attracts a wide variety of students. This group of graduates is made up of 10 women and 5 men, who range in age from 18 to 74.

Fifteen students celebrate graduation from the Individualized Career Achievement Network or iCAN program.

Related UH News video: iCAN prepares students for college and
careers, February 5, 2012 (Read full story)

“I am from Micronesia,” said iCAN graduate Julie Johannes. “And I am a wife, mother and grandma.”

“I recently came out of jail in February and ever since then, I just been on a straight path, just trying to change my life,” said fellow iCAN graduate Nathan Paoa.

iCAN’s mission is to help participants improve their lives by finding career pathways, whether that’s college or some type of workforce training.

“We realize that students don’t have the basic skills that sometimes they need to get into those career pathways or to find the jobs that they are looking for,” said Roya Dennis, the Kapiʻolani Community College iCAN coordinator.

The 135-hour program focuses on career skills like teamwork and communication along with reading, writing, math, computer skills and a broad range of support services.

The students also tour college campuses. The iCAN program is a gateway to the world of possibility—a bridge to higher education or a fulfilling career.

“I learned that I can be myself and what I want to do for my goal, I can do it,” said Johannes. “That’s iCAN program.”

McKinley Community School for Adults and Waipahu Community School for Adults are piloting the iCAN program in a partnership between the University of Hawaiʻi Community Colleges and Department of Education Community School for Adults.

It’s part of the Community College Career Training program funded by a $24.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.

At every iCAN graduation ceremony, each student gives a presentation on their career goals and how they will accomplish those goals. A big part of iCAN is to leave with a detailed plan.

“Well right now, I’m not sure what I want to do,” said Paoa. “That’s why on my presentation I had like three different things. But I know that whatever I do choose, it’s going to be worth it.”

The iCAN program is available every spring, summer and fall.

Graduates receive a National Career Readiness Certificate and a Certificate of Professional Development. They also have an option to earn a Healthcare Foundation certificate by taking an additional 30-hour course that covers the skills needed for entry-level positions in the healthcare industry.

Just like any graduation ceremony, there are a lot of laughter, tears, hugs and one last group shot.

“Now we’re done and I just go on, I want to continue on,” said Johannes right after she graduated. “So never be scared. Just go for it.”

View the photos on the University of Hawaiʻi Flickr site.