Billy Jules, Commercial Foods and Culinary Arts Student
-Student of the Month, April 2021
The beginning of the school year in August of 2017 was a turning point in Billy Jules’ life. He was enrolled in Immokalee High School and dually enrolled in Immokalee Technical College considering the Automotive Technology Program. However, when his high school teacher, Kelly Stevenson-crews, introduced him to the Commercial Foods and Culinary Arts Program, Billy had a change of heart. “Since I’ve been in the class, I fell in love with it,” he said. That is why after graduating from IHS, Billy returned this school year and enrolled as an adult to complete the program.
Billy said some of the things he has learned are how to use the register, how to prepare all different kinds of meats, and how to make cinnamon rolls. “I love cooking and learning new things,” he adds, “but my favorite thing to make is chocolate chip cookies.” When asked why, Billy responded, “Chocolate chip cookies are old fashioned. People love them. I love them. I’m an old fashioned kind of guy.”
Commercial Foods and Culinary Arts instructor, Terrie Thompson, praised Billy. “He has unfailing determination. He never gives up. He always volunteers to help.” It is because of his tenacity and successes that Billy Jules is Immokalee Technical College’s April Student of the Month. Billy has earned his 10 hour OSHA card for General Industry Safety and Health, his Safestaff Certificate, and his Servesafe Certificate, as well as started his own business, Billy’s Fresh Produce!
Every Saturday morning at 8 a.m. Billy can be seen setting up his stand with the help of Mr. Crews at the Ave Maria Farmers’ Market, and by 9 a.m. all his fresh fruits and vegetables are displayed and ready to sell. Ms. Stevenson-crews arrives at the stand around 11 a.m. to help with sales. “I am so proud of Billy with his transition from high school to college,” Ms. Stevenson says. “He has set the bar high for those following him. Billy lives independently and is the proud owner of Billy’s Fresh Produce. His dreams and goals are coming true due to his hard work and determination. “
Billy was born and raised in Immokalee. The first school he attended was The Learning Center, a preschool that was located exactly where iTECH is now! In 2007 The Learning Center was demolished so iTECH could be built. Little did Billy know at four years old having his first educational experience in pre-school that 18 years later he would be back at the same location enrolled at Immokalee Technical College pursuing a career in culinary arts.
Mathurin Vilcin, Machining Graduate
-Student of the Month, March 2021
Mathurin Vilcin’s philosophy is, “If someone else can do it, I can do it!” That way of thinking is the driving force behind everything he accomplishes. It’s not surprising that when he arrived in the United States in 2008, it took him only five years to learn to speak English, earn a GED and get promoted to manager at McDonald’s.
After earning his GED, Mathurin attended Florida Southwest College for a year, and still wasn’t sure if that was the pathway he really wanted to follow. One day he was talking to his friend, Jehu Auguste, a student in the iTECH Machining Program who invited Mathurin to visit the class. “I didn’t even know what machining was,” said Mathurin. “Once I saw it, I fell in love with it and enrolled in the program.”
When Mathurin was just about ready to complete the last two of his projects, the pandemic forced the schools to close in March 2020, and he lost access to the machines in the classroom. Mathurin was able to complete the program on line and was hired by Arthrex as a machine operator associate in May, but those two projects were still on his mind. “I wanted my NIMS Certificate of Special Merit, and I wanted to see my certificate and my name on the classroom wall,” he asserted. So as soon as the schools were able to reopen in August, Mathurin returned to the classroom after work, on his own time and completed the projects and all the requirements to achieve that certificate.
“Mathurin is a great student,” reflects machining instructor Greg Richter. “He’s definitely self-motivated. He came to school all day and then went to work at McDonald’s in the evening.”
Mathurin has now been promoted to machine operator 1 and hopes to be selected for the Arthrex apprenticeship program in the future. “The competition is tough, but if someone else can do it, I can do it!” he assures. (Mathurin’s friend, Jehu, who introduced him to the world of machining is already in the Arthrex apprenticeship program at iTECH.)
Heavy Equipment Service Technician Students
Front left to right: Joseph Sargent, Adrian Seguin, Taylor Bovey, Jose Monroy, Dominic Aguilar, Austin Rudd
Back left to right: Levi Yarnell, Rodrigo Bautista, Alex Ables, Carlos Rodriguez, Leandro Madrid, Sergio Resendiz, Instructor Robert Boyle
-Student of the Month, February 2021
In a time when good paying jobs are hard to find, there are twelve Heavy Equipment Service Technician (HEST) students from Immokalee Technical College who are on a career path with starting pay at $22.00 an hour. These twelve students studied and worked five and a half hours a day for five weeks and then had to pass a four hour test to earn their federally regulated 609 Air Conditioning Certification which makes them iTECH’s Students of the Month for February.
“To earn this certification requires major intensive work,” says Robert Boyle, the instructor. “Having this certification proves that these students have met all the guidelines required by federal law. They have the skills to diagnose, order parts, and repair the air conditioning on any wheeled vehicle in all 50 states and any United States territory.” (As you read this, you might be wondering how hard can ordering parts be? Pretty hard considering there are four major air conditioning systems and over 100 different configurations. Before any parts can be ordered, the certified technician has to be able to identify not only the system, but also the configuration.)
The air conditioning certification is one of six certifications students can achieve in the two year program. Hydraulics, transmission, diesel engines, electrical systems, and air brakes are included in the curriculum. “There’s a lot to learn,” adds Boyle who has over 30 years of experience in the field. “The students benefit from summer internships in Immokalee, Naples, Ft. Myers, and Sarasota. They are paid to learn and work in the real world.”
The HEST Program boasts 100 % placement rate for its graduates, many of whom achieve journey level within a few months meaning they are proficient enough to work on diesel vehicles by themselves or with very little help. Journey level also means that the hourly rate of pay increases considerably.
Quinten Poindexter, Machining Student (CME)
-Student of the Month, January 2021
“I love it. I like expanding my skills,” is how Quinten Poindexter, Immokalee Technical College’s (iTECH) Student of the Month for January responded when asked how he felt about the machining program at the Center for Manufacturing Excellence (CME), iTECH’s career training satellite school in Golden Gate.
Professionally, Quinten Poindexter has a good career as a personal trainer and masseuse. At home, he is quite the handyman. He can fix just about anything, especially if it involves wood. He and his wife have a young son and recently welcomed a baby. Quinten was satisfied with everything about his life except he knew wanted to change careers. “I was always interested in working with metal. I didn’t even know that working in metal was a viable career until recently,” he said. That is when Quinten found the Center for Manufacturing Excellence in Golden Gate.
Quinten enrolled in the CME’s Machining program on August 31, 2020, and now, five months later, he has completed over half of the 15 month program. “I like the way the classroom instruction can be adjusted,” he said referring to the flexibility the teacher has in working with the students. Each student works at his/her own pace while adhering to the time parameters of the program, and the teacher is able to help students one-on-one. “I started off working on manual, mill, and lathe machines. I got used to working with metal, and I feel more comfortable now working with precision measurements. I have made a vice, a clamp, and a small hammer,” he adds.
Quinten, who always takes the time to lend a hand to a fellow student when he/she needs it, has already interviewed with several different companies. “There are a lot of listings for this kind of work. I feel confident going into the future,” he said with a smile.
Alex De La Cruz, Cosmetology Student
-Student of the Month, December 2020
There are some people who always forge ahead no matter how tough life is. They are the ones who are determined to succeed, to be the best they can be and prosper. One of those people is Alex De La Cruz, Immokalee Technical College’s December Student of the Month.
Throughout high school, Alex didn’t have much of a support system. Although there were friends and acquaintances who helped out from time to time, the only one that Alex could always rely on was himself! By the time he graduated from Immokalee High School in 2019, he had learned to speak English, and he had a plan. He was determined to enroll in iTECH’s cosmetology program, which he did in August 2019.
“I always heard what a good teacher she (Delia Lozano) is, and I like how she works,” recollects Alex. “The class is fun. The class is like a family.” That was the motivation that enabled Alex to work three jobs-Domino’s Pizza, Oakes Farms, and Home Depot- while attending the cosmetology program full time.
Alex said that in class some of the skills he learned were how to color hair, cut and style hair, apply make-up, and do nails, but his specialty and favorite thing to do is cut hair. When asked about the most challenging part of the class Alex said, “ It was learning to believe in myself and having confidence in my work.” He added, “We do a lot of art in the class. Doing hair is doing art. It is exciting to make a change for the client.”
Mr. De La Cruz is enhancing his experience by interning at the Dal Meraki Salon (his cosmetology teacher’s salon) in Immokalee and at a barber shop in Golden Gate . His goal is to own his own salon in downtown Naples. Don’t be surprised if you see the Alex De La Cruz Salon on 5th Ave. one of these days!
Widelyne Alcius, Medical Coder/Biller Student
-Student of the Month, November 2020
When GED teacher, Brad Myers uses the words, “hard working, persistent, great math skills,” to describe one of his former students, he is talking about none other than Widelyne Alcius, Immokalee Technical College’s November Student of the Month.
When Ms. Alcius enrolled at iTECH in December of 2017, she had just arrived here from Haiti and spoke no English. Her first step was to enter the English Language Learners Program taught by Laura Riesco Myers. Within ten months, she had mastered all the ELL competencies earning her Certificate of Completion in that program. ELL teacher, Lori Neal, who taught Widelyne during the summer session recalls, “Widelyne is a very positive person, very hard working and motivated to do her very best.”
Not wanting to lose any time, Ms. Alcius headed straight for the GED program. By December of 2019, just two years, almost to the date of when she first enrolled at iTECH, this amazing young lady had not only learned to speak English, but had earned her high school credential as well.
Ms. Alcius then took a semester off to work and to prepare herself to achieve her next goal which was to enroll in the Medical Coder/Biller Program in August this year. Medical Coder/Biller teacher, Donna Jolly, has nothing but praise for Widelyne. “Widelyne Alcius started the Medical Coder Biller program this semester and is very excited to be learning about healthcare. The enthusiasm she has for learning is evident in her demeanor. The caring that she shows her fellow students will serve her well in the healthcare field while dealing with patients and their families. She is a true example of where hard work can get you in life.”
iTECH is proud to honor super-student Widelyne Alcius as Student of the Month for November.