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Turning over new wheels: Two sisters complete truck driver training program at Kaskaskia

After inquiring about the details of the Workforce Equity Initiative Grant at Kaskaskia College for her son, Monique Campbell realized that the WEI grant was her opportunity to change careers.

Kaskaskia College’s Workforce Equity Initiative helps minority students excel and complete their certificates in 10 different programs to be job-ready in less than one year.

“As a single parent raising five children, time became an obstacle for me,” said Campbell. “I wanted to put my children’s future first before considering my goals.”

Motivated by her childhood dream to travel, Campbell chose to complete the truck driver training program that Kaskaskia College offers via a partnership with 160 Driving Academy. 160 Driving Academy offers a four-week program for students to get their CDL at Kaskaskia College. Campbell graduated from the program in October 2021 and was hired on at Werner Enterprises, in Mount Vernon.

“Not having resources makes it hard to obtain a career change,” said Campbell. “It was important to me that I was able to move forward with my future plans as a truck driver, goals for becoming a homeowner, and traveling the world.”

Campbell’s accomplishments inspired her sister Dimitria Panega to start thinking about a career change to truck driving.  The sisters are most recently from Centralia.

“I started to look into furthering my education, but was uncertain on how to move forward,” said Panega. “I’ve had hardship in my life and overcoming the loss of my child had a toll on me and my future plans.”

Panega chose truck driving, motivated by her brother’s advice and sister’s new career. She completed the program in December 2021 and was hired at Werner Enterprises.

“We wouldn’t have been able to pursue these opportunities without the WEI grant and the partnership between 160 Driving Academy and Kaskaskia College,” said Panega. “I may even have some future candidates to complete the program.”

A goal of the WEI program is to place students in full-time jobs to earn at least 30 percent above the regional living wage or be on a pathway to a family-sustaining wage.  The overall goal is to accelerate the time for the participating minority population to enter and succeed in postsecondary education/training programs that lead to employment in high-skilled, high-wage, and in-demand occupations.

To learn more about the Workforce Equity Initiative Grant or 160 Driving Academy’s Truck Driver Training, contact KC Coordinator of Industrial and Continuing Education Cydney Richardson at (618) 545-3256 or crichardson@kaskaskia.edu.

Sisters Monique Campbell and Dimitria Panega with the 160 Driving Academy’s Truck Driver Training semi.

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