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Being GREAT in Indianola

Posted on: October 5, 2015

Zhanecia Birrages wants to be great. So she’s joined a new program in which being great is more than just an adjective.

“I like helping people and I want to give back to my community,” said Zhanecia, 19. “And I want to excel.”

To meet those goals, she has joined a program offered by the Indianola Promise Community (IPC) called GREAT, or Getting Ready to Excel, Achieve and Triumph. The program gives young adults in Indianola the opportunity to gain skills that will assist them with employment and furthering their education.

GREAT is open to Indianola residents who are:

  • between 18-24 years old
  • graduated or attended Indianola’s Gentry High School
  • recipient of a high school diploma or GED
  • interested in a career as a certified nursing assistant, pharmacy technician or child development associate.

“We want to give our young adults a career that is sustainable for long-term opportunities and employment,” said Lolita Gladney, an IPC program manager. “We want to provide them with the knowledge and tools they need to be gainfully employed. There aren’t many programs in this area that do that.”

Split into two venues, GREAT offers scholarships for career opportunities on one track and technical skills with national certification on a second track.

The scholarships are available for up to 12 young adults ages 18-24 who meet the aforementioned requirements. The scholarships pay for instruction at Indianola’s Keplere Institute of Technology and covers the cost of state testing for certification in the four career fields.

Mary Scales, chief executive officer of the Keplere Institute, said IPC is filling a critical gap by giving “these young ladies and men a hope of having a career and a ladder to succeed.”

“When IPC offered this chance, I just jumped at it,” said Scales. “If we all come together we can have a great impact on the community. You know, the sky really is the limit. Sometimes you just need a little help.”

“For many of our young people, college is not an option, so we want to give them opportunities that can lead them into productive, satisfying jobs,” said IPC’s Gladney. “We want them to know that these programs are designed for their futures and for their success.”

For Zhanecia, success lies in the field of health care and a possible career in Texas.

“The program is a great choice for me to excel in,” she said. “I can strongly say that this is the beginning and not the end. I will continue to work hard, excel and do outstanding things in my life.”