Eric Keller


Man-Tra-Con Career Specialist Jo Dene Kern reports on her customer. “When I first met Eric in August 2017, he was a 19-year-old high school drop-out with a disability. Eric’s disability was a mild form of Asperger’s Syndrome that caused him to avoid large groups of people. At the time, he only needed 2 credits to graduate. I encouraged him to enroll at Project ECHO Alternative School where classroom sizes were smaller and offered more “one-on-one” teacher/student interactions. Eric enrolled at ECHO, completed his 2 credits, and graduated with a High School diploma—all within 4 weeks! He was even honored with a Leadership Award in Recognition of Outstanding Accomplishments and Contribution,” Jo Dene explains.

“After graduation, we discussed potential career goals. I informed Eric about the MSSC Apprenticeship Certification program, and explained that the program would prepare him for a career in manufacturing. Eric was worried he would not be able to get his math scores high enough to be eligible for enrollment. I reassured him that we could review his previous math test, study, and work on practice questions before re-taking the test. This work helped Eric increase his math scores significantly and he was able to enroll in the MSSC program for December 2017,” Jo Dene adds.

“In February 2018, after passing his certification exam and Module 2 of the MSSC program, Eric was placed in a Work Experience Program (WEP) position at Orthotech Sports Medical Equipment, working in their warehouse. While enrolled in WEP, Eric continued his training in MSSC, passing Modules 3 and 4. In April 2018, Eric successfully completed his Work Experience at Orthotech. He then began his 2nd WEP in manufacturing at Natural Enrichment Industries, LLC, successfully completing the program in July 2018. During that time, he also earned his Certified Production Technician Certification,” Jo Dene reports.

“Eric learned that he could enroll in post-secondary education under his stepfather’s GI bill. I encouraged him to speak to an advisor at John A. Logan College, take the placement test, and also contact the Veterans Resource Office for more information on how receive assistance. Eric is currently enrolled in the fall 2018 semester at JALC for an Associate’s in Computer Science degree. He plans on becoming “the computer guy” at a manufacturing company,” Jo Dene adds.

Eric says, “When I first enrolled in the Youth Services Program, I never dreamed I would graduate with a diploma, successfully complete the Certified Production Technician Certification, and enroll at John A. Logan College for a Computer Science degree. This is a great program! If it wasn’t for Man-Tra-Con, I would be working at McDonald’s. I really appreciate the help and the motivation Jo Dene provided for me. My advice to youth entering the [MSSC] program is—just stick with it, don’t give up, and it will all turn out beneficial to your future!”