Dana McDade found out about the internationally acclaimed Focus: HOPE Machinist Training Institute program from a flyer on Facebook.
“I was looking for a career change after being permanently laid off from a utility company,” McDade recalled. “The MTI program gave me an opportunity to learn a new skill and find good steady work”.
McDade, a beneficiary of the Job Placement and Career Services program component of Focus: HOPE, today works for a major chemical manufacturing company is southwest Detroit.
“Overall the Focus: HOPE program and my administrative background allowed me to develop skills to work in a manufacturing environment, without being on an assembly line,” she said.
The Focus: HOPE programs takes a holistic approach to teaching, she explained. “In addition to learning about computers and machines, the program is geared toward changing our mindsets. I learned from the motivational speakers, the classes on how to improve credit and the exercises to prepare you for the journey ahead,” said McDade. “It was not easy, but it was worth it.”
McDade, who lives on the city’s northwest side, is a new graduate of the 20-week training program.
There were about 30 participants in McDade’s class, four of whom were women. Only two of the women trainees completed the advanced training program.
““Even though the it was tough, I was committed to completing my goal. My daughter (Kylee) was an inspiration for me to keep going, and I don’t quit what I start,” said the determined McDade.
“One of my main jobs as a parent is to be a good role model for my daughter, as my mom [Lynda McDade] is for me and my siblings.”
“My husband, Minar Douse, encouraged me by telling me to ‘Walk in the shoes the Lord prepared for me to wear.’”
McDade confides she did well academically, but the mechanics portion of the program challenged her. “Focus: HOPE had supports in place that included counselors and other services,” explained the grateful grad.
“The person who helped me most was Rashida Thomas, director of the Workforce Development Program for the past six years [who is] now with Lear Corp.
“Her drive to see us succeed and her dedication to ensure the funds were available for us to finish were an inspiration.”
Athena Miller, manager of the admissions department, said the machinist program is offered to qualified individuals at no cost thanks to the support of private philanthropists and Michigan Works.
The program provides students with foundational manufacturing skills so they may work in entry level manufacturing positions.
Focus: HOPE established the Machinist Training Institute in 1981 to prepare underrepresented minorities and women for manufacturing careers. Its first graduates broke race and gender barriers in machine shops throughout southeast Michigan. The world-class curriculum was developed with input from employers to ensure that students are engaged in developing skills that employers need.
More than 3,000 men and women have graduated from Focus:HOPE’s Machinist Training Institute to date.
For more information on this or other Focus:HOPE training programs, visit www.focushope.edu or call 313-494-4300.