“This is the first book I’ve ever read,” says Chao Her, a student at the Alaska Job Corps Center. Chao holds a book entitled, “Mentor—The Kid and the CEO,” by Tom Pace. It’s not a costly book but Chao treasures it. He keeps it with him and carries it in his backpack.
“I read it from beginning to end,” he says smiling proudly. He can quote from the book: “By reading you gain knowledge…” Chao is now reading anything he can, since he’s proven to himself that reading is more than a possibility.
Chao is the “oldest son,” in a Hmong family of nine. It is his cultural responsibility to be a good role model. He takes his obligation seriously. He made two of his brothers read the book. Then he made his sister read it. His girlfriend read it. Because his parents speak Hmong, Chao translated the book’s message so his folks could understand it.
Chao and his family live in Anchorage. Chao came to the Alaska Job Corps Center because he wasn’t comfortable in public high school. There was racial tension, bullying and lack of safety. He says, “Job Corps is way different and a safe place. My teachers are great.” Yesterday was Chao’s last day at the Alaska Job Corps Center. He completed all of the trade requirements for Facility Maintenance plus OSHA 10, Welding, Alaska Driver’s License and CPR certification. He is interviewing for jobs and guiding his siblings. “They have to stay on the right path and do not fail.”
Chao’s academic instructor, Antoinette Rustad remembers his first day in class. “He seemed afraid to ask questions.” But, most recently, as a senior student, Chao mentored the newest and shyest students who appeared to lack confidence. Rustad is the person who introduced the Mentor book to Chao.
Chao says the book has definitely made a difference in his life. Now there are hundreds of copies of the book circulating on center. Ken Northamer, Center Director for the Alaska Job Corps, read it initially. He was impressed with the book’s simplicity and meaningful message. The Counseling department and Academics are including the book in their class work.
At the Alaska Job Corp’s request, author Tom Pace is voluntarily flying up to visit this summer. There is a full center-wide assembly on Thursday, July 28th at 8:30AM in Palmer, Alaska. Mr. Pace is a successful motivational speaker who travels worldwide with his message of mentoring. Students, family and community are all welcome to hear Mr. Pace’s important story.
The Alaska Job Corps Center is the home of 250 young adults training in eleven different trades. The Alaska Job Corps Center is managed by Chugach Alaska Corporation and administered by the U. S. Department of Labor.