KY FAME: Crossing Generations
Fresh off receiving her diploma from Scott County High School, Brooke Lowery was at a crossroads.
“I really didn’t know where I wanted to go next,” Brooke said. “The traditional college route wasn’t for me, but I knew I had to do something to find a good career.”
That’s when she learned about KY FAME’s Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) program, an innovative, apprentice-style education and training certification designed to create one of the most highly skilled workforces in the world. Students attend classes two days per week at their local community college and work an additional 24 hours per week for a sponsoring employer. At the end of the five-semester program, students receive an associate’s degree with little or no debt, and many begin high paying full-time careers with their sponsors.
“I like working with my hands,” Brooke said. “Plus, not many college students can say they graduated with a degree, no debt and a career just waiting for them. KY FAME seemed like a great fit for me.”
She started taking classes at Bluegrass Community & Technical College and within a couple of months, Brooke received an offer from a company sponsor – Monoplast. The agreement: Monoplast, which makes plastic parts for the automotive industry, would pay for her schooling if she agreed to work as a part-time tech three days a week and then work for the company full-time following graduation.
“It was a good deal for me,” she said. “I am currently servicing injection molding machines, which is pretty technical stuff.”
Advanced manufacturing is traditionally a male-dominated industry, but KY FAME also encourages more women to get into the field. Brooke supports that goal. “If a woman wants to roll up her sleeves, use her hands and get a good career, I definitely think she should look into the program,” she said. “I more than hold my own.”
Dad Gets Involved Too
Like his daughter, Ron Lowery also was at a crossroads. The military vet spent much of the 1990s serving in Korea and was part of an anti-terrorist team stateside. When he returned to civilian life, his job prospects were slim.
“With the economy, there really wasn’t much out there for me,” Ron said. “I worked some retail jobs to support the family. I really wanted to become an engineer, but I didn’t have the time or a way to pay for the schooling.”
Ron knew that Brooke was finding success in KY FAME, but didn’t give it much thought until his daughter taught him more about the program. “I thought it was just for college-age students,” Ron said. “Once I learned that KY FAME is open to military vets, I became really interested in the program. I thought this could be an opportunity to rejuvenate my career.”
Ron decided to enroll in KY FAME and was picked up by Toyota to be his sponsor. “I was terrified of going back to school, but it was a really smooth transition,” he said. “I was surprised by how quickly I caught on.”
In fact, Ron and Brooke have even been in some of the same classes. “It’s really cool to share this experience with my daughter,” Ron said.
Brooke agreed. “Since I’m further in the program, there are times I’ll help my dad with his homework. The tables have turned from when I was a kid,” she said, laughing.
Once he graduates from KY FAME, Ron plans to continue his education and obtain his bachelor’s degree in engineering. “KY FAME is helping me create my dream career,” he said. “I wish this program was around right after I got out of the service. This is a great opportunity for vets to use their skills and learn an in-demand trade after getting out.”
Though Brooke and Ron have different plans for after KY FAME, both said the program has provided them the tools needed for long-term success. “KY FAME has been a great move for my career,” Brooke said. “It’s tough to have a good paying job without some education. With KY FAME, I’ll have both.”
“I’m so lucky to be a part of the program,” Ron said. “Whether you’re a young person, a veteran or a professional looking to improve your skills or start a new career, KY FAME is a great option to get you to where you want to go.”
KY FAME is part of the Kentucky Skills Network. Through a team of business service specialists, the Network partners with new and existing companies to match employer needs with available workforce resources. Qualifying companies within the Commonwealth are eligible for recruitment and job screening services at no cost; in addition, flexible grant funding is available to offset the costs of customized and in-house training needs, to establish apprenticeship programs and to provide free safety and OSHA training.