FORT PIERCE, Fla. (CBS12) — On Wednesday, hundreds of students walked across the stage to get their degrees from Indian River State College (IRSC). Several students receive technical or vocational certificates.
Wednesday's graduates at IRSC studied to become everything from a nurse to a mechanic.
Joachim Shemo is a culinary graduate, he is going to be a chef.
“But I'm also going to continue on my career path and I'm going to become a certified welder as well," said Shemo.
His end goal is to become an executive chef for an Italian fine-dining restaurant.
Shemo is one of 930 students graduating with a vocational or technical certificate Wednesday.
Hannah Newberry is a graduate of the welding program. She was a part of the 14-month program where she was one of two women in the class. She says this experience is as close to the real world as students can get.
“We learned a whole bunch of different like the theory about welding. We would take tests like weld tests, so you'd actually have to weld something out in different positions," said Newberry.
She's going to work for a welding union, it's a job that will take her around the country and she can't wait to get started.
Just like Newberry's program, several of the students are able to complete these programs in less than two years. The curriculum gives graduates hands-on experience learning their trades.
For nursing program graduate, Romone Reid, this is her second chance at a new career. She originally taught K-4 reading, but during COVID she decided to make a change to nursing and she chose IRSC's program for a reason.
"I work with nurses who have done the program and they're just a different kind of nurse, they're caring. They care about you as a person. They care about their patients and just their whole attitude towards work and their integrity, I want it to be a part of that story," said Reid.
The future of these programs is looking bright as IRSC President Dr. Timothy Moore says the new Eastman Advanced Workforce Training Complex will open in the spring.
“We recognize we've got to produce the workforce in this nation, particularly in the state as we're growing. You've got to build that middle class back to where it used to be," President Moore.
According to Moore, the nearly 31 million dollars, 62,000 sq. ft. facility will house programs like welding, plumbing, and auto and marine functioning.
The new facility hoped to open in early 2023, but due to supply chain shortages, it is now expected to open in April or May of next year.