Motivating others is something Homestead Job Corps Center (HJCC) student Leondra Edwards was determined to do. As Student Government Association president, she had a motto “determination, motivation and success.”
“You have to be determined to stay motivated in order to earn your success,” she often stated.
Before coming to study and live at Homestead Job Corps Center, Leondra was working in retail at a mall in Central Florida. She was determined to save for her own place, a car and college, however, working paycheck to paycheck did not give her the opportunity to do so.
Her sister told her about Job Corps — a place to gain valuable career technical training, learn independent living skills and get a jump start on a successful career.
As it turned out, several other family members had gone through the Job Corps program years ago. Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Job Corps is the nation’s leader as a federally funded, no-cost education and training program to youth ages 16-24 who qualify.
“I enrolled in Job Corps because of the circumstances I was in…no college and not much money. I saw Job Corps as a chance to better myself and as a track to a career and independence” Edwards stated.
She chose office administration as the trade to pursue at HJCC. Attaining administrative skills would make her qualified for any office job. It would be an advantage when achieving her ultimate goal of starting her own business. She obtained “real world” experience in the field by working as an intern in the administration office at HJCC.
Having completed this internship successfully, Edwards soon will be attending “Job Corps Advanced Training” at the Atlanta Job Corps Center. She will complete TCU’s (Transportation Communication Union) career training.
“As a youth, I moved around a lot. At first I did not enjoy moving so much, but now I look forward to it and hope to travel all over the world someday. I feel Job Corps provided me with a stable environment to really pursue my goals and achieve them” Edwards said.
While at Homestead Job Corps Center, Edwards used her SGA position as a way to inspire her peers to respect themselves and others.
“President” meant more than a title to Edwards; it meant she was to be an example of what a leader is and inspired others to take on leadership roles. She brought students together by organizing incentive trips, coordinating school dances and participating in community service projects. She spoke at events and met many prominent people who made a lasting impression on her.
Edwards’ most memorable experience took place in Washington, DC, where she attended the annual Job Corps Policy Forum. She had the honor of meeting U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros- Lehtinen.
“When the Congresswoman walked into the room it instantly got brighter. I got an unbelievable spark of energy from her presence,” Edwards remembered.
Walking out of the Congresswoman’s office, Edwards noticed the array of FIU (Florida International University) memorabilia displayed.
“I am eager to attend and complete Job Corps’ Advanced Training program. I will then begin the next step in my educational career and attend FIU, my college of choice,”Edwards remarked.
Edwards has come a long way while at Homestead Job Corps Center. Her family, friends and HJCC staff members are proud of her.
“If I touched one life while I was here at HJCC, I hope that they reach out and do the same for someone else. That’s all the thanks I need. My advice to fellow students is that when you think no one is watching you or no one appreciates what you are doing, do good for the sake of doing good. Appreciation will follow in its own time,” Edwards said.
She experienced this recently when Dr. Larry Feldman, Miami-Dade School Board vice chair, presented her with an Exemplary Medal of Honor for her service as SGA president. Receiving the medal really took Edwards by surprise.