Little did Chamain and Shaneka Hicks know four years ago that they would be off on an adventure that their high school classmates would envy.
This April, the twins will embark to Kuwait for a long-term job with a six-figure salary.
The two work for the Charlotte, N.C. company, Steel Fab. They’ll be cutting and welding steel in the Middle East because of the training they received at the Flatwoods Forest Service Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center near Coeburn,Va. They knew nothing about welding before attending, but chose the trade because their older sister, who works as a supervisor in the Newport News shipyard, was also a welder.
Flatwoods center director David Scholes said the facility’s goal is to find its students jobs and offer them an education with employability skills.
The Forest Service operates another 27 Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers like Flatwoods, where students can earn their high school diploma or GED. At the Virginia facility they can learn one of eight trades: welding, carpentry, plumbing, electrical, plastering, painting, cement masonry and office administration.
Perseverance that the twins share in wanting to better their lives is what Scholes and their former Flatwoods welding instructor, Harold Cross, believe has led to their success. They sometimes return to Flatwoods to share their story with current students, which he believes is a great motivator.
“We came here (Flatwoods) to change our lives and to do better forourselves,” said Shaneka. “We want to have businesses and travel, see the world, take care of our family, have a family one day . . . and just do good.” She continues “It’s a stepping stone, that’s what it is, that’s what life is. If you have a good attitude about a bad situation or a mediocre situation then you’ll come out on top. I’m making money off of something that was given to me for free.”