Resting on the counter beside the Country Foods IGA Kenai Alternative High School student Isaiah Metcalf got the news he’d been waiting for for days.
Situated at the top of his email list was the message that confirmed the $10,000 scholarship through Global Technical Services for nearly a dozen certifications that would get him exactly where he wants to go- to work in the oilfield.
“Oh my god,” Metcalf said peering onto the screen. “She got in touch with me.”
Metcalf spoke before the Kenai Peninsula School Board on behalf of Kenai Alternative at a recent public meeting. Staff and students are concerned for the future of the school’s programs with the impending slashes to educational funding from the state, he said.
Through the high school Metcalf was connected with Loretta Knudson-Spalding, who runs the Employability Preparation for Individualized Careers program, or EPIC, which is funded through the Department of Labor and Workforce Development Division of Business Partnerships.
EPIC targets high school students who need assistance building a career, some at risk, through individualized training, Knudson-Spalding said.
She has been bridging the divide between local businesses and students in need of support and financial stability since 200, and worked with adults before that.
“We hook them up with a mentorship type situation,” Knudson-Spalding said.
Right now there are 30 seniors working directly with Knudson-Spalding to obtain relevant certifications, land jobs and get on the right track to enter the workforce as soon as they graduate high school, she said.
“They are the most motivated group I have ever had,” Knudson-Spalding said. “They are good kids they just got a raw deal in life. They just need someone to give them a chance.”
In matter of three months Metcalf, who had the motivation and self-discipline to spend eight hours each day at school five days each week, followed by eight hours at work six days each week, was able to secure the Global Technical Services scholarship, Knudson-Spalding said.
“He was hungry,” Knudson-Spalding said. “He knew what he needed to do to be successful.”
Metcalf had been working toward independence and stability since he was 12 when his mother left Alaska to live in Louisiana. He bounced between family and friends until Knudson-Spalding connected him with Dusty Steinbeck, the owner of Country Foods.
“I know I am not the worst one,” Metcalf said. “But she (Loretta) might have helped me the most. I don’t know.”
When Metcalf spoke at the school board meeting board member Marty Anderson took an interest.
“He grabbed me before I left the room and told me to call him,” Metcalf said. “He said ‘I have a $10,000 scholarship for you.’”
Metcalf said he wants to secure a good job, ideally with Hilcorp Energy Company, that is close to home as soon as possible so he can “still sleep in my own bed at night.”
If the budget cuts dig too deep EPIC is at risk of disappearing completely, Knudson-Spalding said.
Metcalf said students like him, who just need a little extra help, might never get what they need to make it through the last few steps.
Reach Kelly Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org