After 16 weeks in the Passport2Success program, it was an afternoon of success for the women who graduated from the program’s 19th cohort on April 22.
More than 30 guests gathered in the Galleon Ballroom of The Westin resort to show their support in a ceremony for the women.
In the past five years, the Passport2Success program has helped five groups of single mothers develop new skills and secure internships and employment.
This year’s cohort included 11 women, eight of whom have obtained employment.
Ashley Taylor, 27, is one of them.
“I feel like a better person altogether,” Ms. Taylor said after the commencement ceremony. “I saw [joining the program] as a big opportunity for me to benefit from.”
Ms. Taylor, a mother of three, started the program in January.
In addition to internship and community placements, job shadowing, site visits and guest speakers being features of the program, parenting classes were also available as a means of self-empowerment and encouraging motherhood.
Before joining the program, Ms. Taylor found it difficult to land a job, despite applying for “any and everything.”
“When you get in [the program],” explained Ms. Taylor, “you continue to send out resumes.”
Throughout her time in the program, she continued to apply for jobs, but “I didn’t get one interview,” she said. “Not a single one.”
However, she did secure work placement at CUC for about eight weeks, in customer service.
Students of the program are encouraged to secure a work placement and keep up their attendance at classes, so Ms. Taylor dedicated every Tuesday and Thursday to her internship, and the remaining time to her classes.
Then, on April 21, one day before her graduation from the program, Ms. Taylor received an email offer of employment from CUC.
“I start on Monday,” she said with a smile, noting that she will be working in the Human Resources department.
Before joining Passport2Success, Ms. Taylor said she felt afraid of failing.
“Now I’m not afraid to take on whatever challenges come,” she said.
Ms. Taylor, who aspires to one day become a property manager and accountant, also plans to continue her education.
Other graduates have secured employment at Hurley’s supermarket, OA+D Architects, SteppingStones, Kirk Motors, Asociados, The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa and Bodden Funeral Services.
The three graduates who have yet to secure employment will work with the National Workforce Development Agency to find jobs.
Among the special guests at last week’s ceremony was Education Minister Tara Rivers.
“You now have the skills to take you further than when you began this program,” she said to the graduates.
Before presenting certificates to the graduates, Ms. Rivers dared the women to be different and to challenge mediocrity.
“They’ve been tremendously supportive of each other,” program instructor Anne-Marie Gray said of the graduates.
“It’s remarkable how rapidly they’ve grown. They’ve been building one another up and have made a great bond.”