"Workforce Education at Green River was VERY instrumental in allowing me to go back to school, and I'm grateful for all the assistance I received and continue to receive." - Genie L, Green River Student

"Make sure you talk to Workforce Education...They can help in many ways to make things go smoothly and make sense." - Chris S, Green River Student

"Workforce Education...will embrace you and lend a helping hand with open hearts." Elsie Q, Green River Student

"Workforce Education has been there for me since day one!" - Jenny S, Green River student

Jun 13, 2014

Student Success Story: Melissa Curry

Future software developer Melissa
Curry, pictured above with her son
Today's success story features an inspirational Q and A with Melissa Curry. Melissa is a Workforce Education student who is enrolled in the IT Networking Degree program at Green River. After a job layoff, and as a mother, she decided more education was the only way to create a brighter future for her young son.

Two years later, Melissa is preparing to graduate this week with a degree in IT Networking. She is a first generation college student, and the first in her family to earn a college degree. Looking ahead, she plans to continue her education by enrolling in Green River's new Bachelor of Applied Science Degree program, with the goal of one day becoming a rockstar software developer. Check out her story below!

Hi Melissa, thanks for joining us on the blog. What's it like being a student in the Information Technology-Networking degree program?

Melissa: Being an IT student at Green River is definitely a privilege, and a challenge as well. We have the most amazing instructors. I have no doubt I will succeed in the field.

What lead you to pursue training in this particular field?

Melissa: My dream was to be a writer, but I put those dreams on hold when I ended up getting pregnant right out of high school. My goals changed, and I was more focused on making enough money to support my son and still be able to spend time with him. As a single mother, it wasn't easy. I was working a couple of jobs to make ends meet, and then got the opportunity to train to become a casino dealer. Working as a table games dealer provided me with a job that enabled me to work only four days a week, and make enough money to not have to struggle. I put off my goal of going back to school because the money was good, but when the economy took a change for the worse, the entertainment industry took a huge hit.

I had managed to survive eight years and several changes in management in the same casino, but I was eager to make a change. When I was terminated by the newest casino manager, I decided this was my chance. I needed to set an example for my son that an education is necessary and obtainable. While researching careers, I found that the technology industry is always looking for professionals, and many of our large IT companies have to outsource jobs to other countries because not enough people are qualified here. I decided IT Networking would be the industry I'd be more secure in. We will always have technology, and as it grows, professionals will always be in demand.

How has Workforce Education helped you achieve your goals?

Melissa: After losing my casino job, I was devastated. I had been a loyal employee for eight years. I applied for unemployment benefits and applied for several table games dealer positions. Summer is the slowest season in the casino industry, so it wasn't looking good. I was so scared, worried, and truly felt hopeless. As soon as I learned that I had the option of going to school, I was so excited. I immediately applied for enrollment at Green River and for federal financial aid. I was then informed that my financial aid wouldn't be processed in time for the start of the fall quarter. Thankfully, the Worker Retraining program stepped in and was able to cover my tuition for fall quarter so I was able to start working towards my goal of obtaining my AAS degree in IT Networking. The Worker Retraining program not only helped me get the wheels rolling and start school, but they made it possible for me to finish my degree.

Two years later, towards the end of the last quarter in my program, I realized that I needed two additional credits to complete my degree. After many conversations with my adviser, we added two credits retroactively. I was so relieved, but only briefly. I learned that I wouldn't be able to have those two final credits covered by financial aid. I had no way of covering the money needed to pay the tuition for the two credits, and I wouldn't be able to get my diploma. Although it wasn't a large amount of money owed, it was impossible for me to come up with the funds as I am a full-time student and single mother with a very limited resources. The Worker Retraining program came through for me yet again, and not only paid the money owed for my final two credits, but also covered the fee for my diploma! I am so thankful for the Worker Retraining program.

You're getting ready to graduate with your Associate of Applied Science degree--congrats! What are your future plans?

Melissa: My outlook on life has brightened more and more each day as of late. I am so proud to be able to show my young son how hard work will pay off, and to be the first member of my family to receive a college degree. I am not only getting my Associate of Applied Science degree, but I am also starting to work towards my Bachelors degree in Software Development! While studying in the IT Networking program, I discovered my love of coding / scripting. When I first realized I really enjoyed this part of IT, I was a bit discouraged because I felt like I had chosen the wrong pathway. I didn't want the last two years of all my hard work to be for nothing, and start all over towards a different degree. I also didn't want to start a career in something I didn't love. Then one of my instructors, Ken Hang, announced plans for a new Bachelor of Applied Science program in Software Development that was sort of a hybrid degree in Networking and Software Development. I am so excited to be one of the first students in the program, and can't wait to start my career!
Funding Tip! Three Workforce Education funding programs--BFET, Worker Retraining, and WorkFirst--support IT pathways at Green River.