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Occupational Skills helps build independence

By Karina Glazier

RCTC Echo Staff Writer

It can be difficult for anyone to find a job in today’s economy, especially someone with a disability. 

Helping students prepare for entry-level employment is the goal of the RCTC’s Occupational Skills Program.

 “The Occupational Skills Program provides quality learning opportunities for students with mild-moderate disabilities to become self-directed, employable and contributing community members,” says the course mission statement. 

This is a nine-month program, which includes both in-class training, as well as an internship outside the classroom. 

Drew Thoreson, 19, said one thing that most spiked his interest regarding this program was the internship opportunities. Thoreson currently is interning at RCTC in the Maintenance Department. 

Another student, who chose to remain anonymous, has interned at Chester Woods Park in Olmsted County since October 2012. 

Aside from the internships, the students were also required to get involved with an activity in the community. Thoreson, who earned the rank of Eagle when he was in Boy Scouts, chose martial arts. He says he benefited from this because it was a good way to meet people.  

Both students said that when they began the program, they were reserved, but that the longer they have been in the program, the more they have opened up and created friendships among their peers. Both students believe that this program is helping them to become more independent, and gain skills that will assist them in getting and keeping good jobs in the workforce.

They explain that the list of skills that are emphasized in class is a long one, but some of the major focus points are budgeting their money, writing a resume, application skills, and mock interviews. Not only are they learning these skills, but are expected to apply them outside of the classroom.

In order to do this they’ve used things such as spending calendars and time management charts. Team building is key to this course. Group work is often used in this class in order to keep the students actively involved. They say that their instructor, Vicky Keller-Schleeter, does this in order to get them used to interacting, as if it were with coworkers.

 “I am looking forward to expanding on what I already know, as well as gaining more knowledge of the class,” Thoreson said. 

The other student said, “I hope to get more out of the mock interviewing, and learn how to improve upon that.” 

After graduation, Thoreson hopes to work in maintenance at RCTC or at the Mayo Clinic. The other student, originally from Iowa, hopes to find a job there. 


On a final note, both students wanted to make sure that it was emphasized that, “Vicky is an awesome teacher!” 



Last Updated: October 7, 2014

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