FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - A group of inmates graduated Thursday with welding certifications after completing a program run by Ivy Tech Community College.
"A good comeback for a minor setback, I'll tell you that much," Staniko Hannah said after getting his certificate.
The program, part of Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb's Next Level Agenda, trained the men incarcerated at the Chain O'Lakes Correctional Facility to weld. After competing course requirements, the inmates received American Welding Society certifications.
"There was never a dull moment," Hannah added. "It was always exciting... burned a couple of times. But that's to be expected. Other than that, it was amazing."
According to a release from Ivy Tech, "welding is an exceptional pathway for released offenders and provides them higher pay rates and stable employment upon re-entry."
"Next for me? Just wait on the interview process for Dexter Axel in Albion," Hannah explained. "Then I'll come home with a job paying good money... more than a job, it's a career."
Some of the graduates have already qualified for work-release or have a job secured.
"We do understand that everybody makes a mistake and it's nice to be a part of a group that really wants to change their life and start over," Holly Pfeiffer from Dexter Axle said. "We were hoping with this program, we can give them a second chance, a good strong career... not just a job, but a career."
There is a high demand for certified welders in northern Indiana.
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