Dillon Holmberg joined the ACHIEVE! Youth Opportunity Program in June 2014. He had just recently dropped out of high school and was having a hard time finding a job. According to Dillon, “Before I ended up in the TRA ACHIEVE! Program I was kind of just sitting around all day. And I was feeling depressed. My friends and family kept telling I had to go find a job, but nobody wanted to hire me without a diploma. So I went to the library to find classes to help me get my High School Equivalency Diploma, and that’s when I saw the TRA-Worcester ACHIEVE! flyer and decided to sign up.”

Dillon joined ACHIEVE! on June 24th, 2014. He had average TABE scores on his Reading and Math tests, and told the staff he wanted to get his High School Equivalency Diploma (HISED) so he could find a job in the Carpenters Union. Dillon said, “I was really nervous on my first day. I didn’t know what to expect; I really didn’t do good school. I was scared it was going to be just like high school. But, the staff at TRA was very nice to me. I remember Virginia (TRA Employment Specialist) greeted me with a smile, and asked me questions about what I wanted to do for a career. She made it sound like I could really do something with myself and make some money one day. She made me feel really comfortable, and I decided that I would give TRA a chance.”

Dillon started off in ACHIEVE! doing very well. He had a 90% attendance rate for his first two months, and earned his National Retail Federation (NRF) Customer Service Certificate within the first four weeks of class. He also signed up to take his High School Equivalency Test (HiSET) exam, but failed two of the five tests.

Dillon said, “I felt really good after I got my Customer Service Certificate. The staff at TRA was very happy for me. Doug Daigle (TRA Instructor/ Case Manager) told me how great I did, and that really made me feel good. But, after I failed two of my HiSET tests I lost a lot of confidence, and stopped going to school.”

Dillon stopped attending TRA, but the staff continued to call him every day to try to get him back in class. Doug, who was Dillon’s teacher at the time, said, “I remember when Dillon left. I kept telling myself, we have to get him back in class. So I called him every day, just so I could remind him that we were still here and that we weren’t going to quit on him.”

Dillon did come back to the program and worked with Doug and Leah Rodriguez (TRA Instructor/ Case Manager) on passing his last two HiSET tests which he did in April 2015. He then started the process of becoming a Union Carpenter. Dillon attended an open house for the New England Carpenters Training Center located in Millbury, MA in May 2015, and has an interview set up for September. Dillon also found a full time job at Walmart where he plans stay until he can start his career as a carpenter.

“The staff at Training Resources of America are some of the nicest people I have ever met. They never quit on me, and they always were patient with me. Doug and Leah are the best teachers I have ever had. One year ago I had no plan, and was just doing nothing. Now I have a full time job, I am a High School Equivalency Test graduate and I have an interview with the Carpenters Union. I love TRA, and I want to be a mentor in their program for other students. I am lucky that they believed in me.”

Dillon plans on volunteering in the ACHIEVE! classroom to help other students who are struggling in Math and to share his story. The staff at TRA is very proud of him!

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