Do you know your “why”? The reason you show up every day to work, family, and community; the thing that keeps you pushing forward on your toughest days? At the West Michigan Center for Arts + Technology, every student in the Adult Career Training Program can tell you their “why” for pursuing a new career; their “why” keeps them going when the journey seems impossible.

There are significant mental, emotional, and logistical costs for families working toward economic security. Every week, our students juggle four days of class, part-time or full-time work, parenting and caring for loved ones, homework and studying. Beginning new careers will be life-changing, but the personal cost to get there is high.

WMCAT provides tuition-free opportunities for families, along with on-site resources and a community of support; and students’ “why” keeps them going. Please make a gift today to continue this work.

Jada Strong, 2022-23 Adult Career Training Student

Jada Strong knows first-hand the cost of pursuing a new pathway. Now a medical coding student in WMCAT’s Adult Career Training Program, Jada was working full-time in retail when she heard about the opportunity from her sister, who graduated as a pharmacy technician earlier this year. Jada had reservations about leaving the stability of a steady full-time paycheck, but she wanted more than steady; she wanted to thrive.

Jada decided to take the leap and invest in herself. She enrolled in the Adult Career Training Program with her sights set on a career in medical coding. Now several months into her WMCAT journey, she’s working harder than ever.

“It feels overwhelming from time to time. I always say the academic part of school isn’t the hard part. The hard part is the juggling of school and then everything else outside.” Jada is working part-time, showing up as a mother, attending in-person and online classes, and studying with any free time she has. So what keeps her going?

Jada and her son, Kitai

Jada’s “why” is her seven-year-old son, Kitai. Providing a better life for him, along with having the flexibility and peace of mind that comes with economic security, is what’s keeping Jada focused on her goal.

The community of support Jada has found at WMCAT also keeps her going.

One thing that I think people should know about WMCAT is if you are looking for a program that is going to give you endless support, absolutely do it. I feel like in high school before you graduate, your teachers are always like, when you go to college, they’re not going to care if you do your homework. They’re not going to care if you show up. But WMCAT, they’re one of your biggest cheerleaders … they’re going to make sure that you have everything that you need to be successful.”

Jada (right) connects with fellow students and community members at WMCAT’s Mix + Mingle networking event

Jada and her fellow students also have you. Please make a gift today. Your support helps provide tuition-free programming, student stipends, access to an emergency fund, on-site support from an Arbor Circle therapist, opportunities to build social capital, and a team of WMCAT staff and instructors to guide the journey to a new career.

When the mental, emotional, and logistical costs of pursuing economic security are high, Jada remembers her “why.” She and Kitai do their homework side by side at the table, and she looks ahead to a life-changing career in the healthcare field. “Being a part of something so important, I feel like, makes it all worthwhile.”

By making a gift to WMCAT today, you help provide the space, support, and resources for students like Jada to take a leap, work towards the future they envision for themselves and their families, and embrace their “why.”