ALBANY – An immigrant who escaped the war in Ukraine and an aspiring heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration technician are just two of the dozens of adults who were honored during the recent Capital Region BOCES Adult Education program graduation.
The Aug. 22 ceremony at William S. Hackett Middle School in Albany recognized 100 graduates of the BOCES high school equivalency (HSE); English as a new language (ENL); welding; heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC/R); and electrical trades programs.
Among the graduates was Isaiah Guinn of Latham.
“I like the HVAC industry because everything you do in life, everything you are part of, involves an HVAC system. HVAC is an integral part of everyday life,” said Guinn.
Another graduate was Tetiana Prokopenko of Albany, who escaped the war in Ukraine, and Afghanistan refugee Zekriya Baz Mohammad, who now resides in Latham.
“I have been in the U.S. since 2006. I realized over time that to get a good job, you need your degree. I want to get my diploma so I can go to college for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC/R),” said Mohammad.
“This program was a good opportunity to get my GED so that I can go to college. I can’t go to college without my diploma,” he added.
For Prokopenko, who escaped Ukraine as Russian tanks rolled toward her family’s home, BOCES provided an opportunity to meet new people and learn American culture.
“I didn’t come to BOCES for the diploma necessarily, I came here for the community and to make friends, and also to learn about America and your customs,” said Prokopenko.
Graduates Carl Halloran and Monica Datz traveled an hour or more each day for their education at Capital Region BOCES.
Halloran, who will graduate from the welding program, commuted from Northville while Datz, who will graduate from the commercial and residential electrical trades programs, commuted from Arlington, Vermont.
Halloran said he worked in a pizza shop and “wants to get a job in welding, probably on the manufacturing side.”
“I like hands-on work and I like the process of putting something together and being creative,” he said.
For Datz, BOCES provided an opportunity for a new future after losing a job.
“I worked in woodworking and got laid off. I wanted a career change, something that I can do in the future, make a good living, and feel accomplished,” said the aspiring electrician.
The graduates are just some of the approximately 1,000 adult learners served annually by Capital Region BOCES. Many of the adult learners pursue education in post-secondary trade programs like heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), welding, and nursing.
“Demand is high for programs that allow students to redirect their lives or to get an edge in a challenging workforce,” said Capital Region BOCES Adult Education Program Manager Mike Markou. “We are pleased to be able to offer these courses and provide adults across the region a new beginning.”
Visit https://www.capitalregionboces.org/adult-education/classes-programs/ for more information about any of these programs.