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Workforce Wednesday: M-TEC Champions program helps students explore new careers

May 19, 2021, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – GRCC Workforce Training programs provide in-demand skills leading to rewarding careers. Each Wednesday we’ll meet students who are heading down an educational pathway and changing their lives by earning occupational certificates.

GRCC M-TEC Champions are moving forward!

We first met Kenneth Lara and Francisco Mendez as part of the first cohort of GRCC M-TEC Champions program. Neither of them knew what career path they wanted to take after graduating.

 “I had just graduated from high school and had no idea what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to go to college but I had no real direction. My high school counselor told me about the Champions program and because it was free, I signed right up! It’s been great!” Lara said.

“Yeah, I just graduated too. I wanted to go to college but didn’t know for what or really how I would pay for it. When I first got the email about the Champions program I thought it was a scam – just too good to be true,” Mendez said. “This program allowed me to explore different fields to see what interested me.”

The GRCC M-TEC Champions program offers qualified applicants, ages 18-24, the resources to obtain job skills that can lead to a more secure and better quality of life. The program is free to those who qualify. Participants first attend a training program preparing them for five possible career types.

“The Readiness Bootcamp helped out so much! They gave us a lot of information about jobs that I had no idea about. Once we toured the construction field, I was excited,” Lara said. “

Now both are learning hands-on skills in the Introduction to Construction Job Training program.

The readiness program includes: career exploration and planning, employer interaction, tours, “ready to learn” activities, financial literacy, computer/digital skills, and leadership skills.

 “When we had to practice interviewing I was nervous, Lara said. Mendez added, “It was good to practice that skill. We practiced a lot! It really helps build confidence to practice.”

After successful completion of part one, each student chooses and receives training in various technical careers tracks, also free of cost. These technical paths focus on building skills and credentials that lead to gainful employment.

 “If not for the Champions program, I would probably be working all day, not making much money. I’m on my own and I don’t have thousands of dollars for credit classes right now. The Champions program has really helped me be excited about my future,” Lara said.

Anyone interested in gaining career skills through GRCC Workforce Training can connect via email at, and by phone at (616) 234-3800. Additional information is at


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