Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

April 8, 2010

Kicking Horse celebrates with March graduation

By Lailani Upham

PABLO "Words cannot even begin to express the feeling of accomplishment I have. I am graduating!" were the opening remarks by Kicking Horse Job Corps graduating student, Dusty Enick-James.

Enick-James expression of words in his graduating speech last week covered an overall theme for the 13 graduating KHJC students.

Enick-James told the crowd the feeling of graduating from KHJC was like saying good-bye to his high school. He had been a student at KHJC for a 18 months.

Enick-James shared that the new next step was like saying hello to the rest of his life. He described the time and training at KHJC appeared to be a lifetime at first, but now that it's come to a close his reflections on the experience is a place that completed who he is, and who he will become.

"We always give all the students a chance to say something at graduation and Dusty grabbed at the opportunity right away," said Shelly Fyant, KHJC Career Training Coordinator. "He is usually very quiet and doesn't say much, so it was a nice surprise," she added.

To Enick-James KHJC was a focal point for his future with the "lock-in" discipline enforced at the center kept him distracted from the rest of the world, he shared.

DustyEnick-JamesEnick-James, 21, member of the Crow Tribe and the son Violet and Jonathan James of Tacoma, Washington, graduated with a Heavy Equipment Operation certification. He received a driver's license and OSHA forklift certifications and earned and held several leadership positions, such as: dorm leader, safety officer, bay leader, section chief, dorm chief and new student guide.

His next life step is to work at SK Construction, Inc.

"I never really understood what a major effect Kicking Horse would have on my life," he said. "In the beginning I thought it was pointless and a waste of time. Then reality sunk in and I asked myself is this really what I want?" he added. Enick-James shared how asking this question within himself prompted his thoughts toward his younger siblings. "Is this what I want my younger siblings to look up to? Do I want to follow in others' footsteps; become another shadow or do I want to make my own path and become the light that cast that shadow?" This was his turning point that shifted his future in grabbing at opportunity. Now graduating, Enick-James says he is more prepared for what lies ahead and determined to excel.

Josh MittsStudent Josh Mitts, 20, from Custer, Montana was another young man that wasted no time at preparing a few words for the graduating guests. Mitts words of affirmation resonated a touch of poetic rap style gratitude.

Mitts took the stage shortly after Enick-James speech. He confidently looked the audience straight on and began the bust on words of endless thanks for many things life brings that followed into a verse stating, "Some people tend to forget how good we really have had it here...each and every enrolled Kicking Horse student represents an estimated $30,000 - ranging from food, training, education, and all the wonderful extra-curricular activities we enjoy so much. Job Corps has helped us get on our feet - and well at least for me was truly a blessing in disguise and for that I am thankful." Mitts took a quick pause waking the audience a little, "Success! The difference between a successful person and others is not lack of strength not lack of knowledge but rather a lack of will. If you don't believe, you won't succeed - and if you don't apply you won't achieve." Mitts punch line ended with a roar from the crowd as he left off with, "Keep in mind that no one is going to live your life but you, so don't let others drag you down. When they treat you like you're a nobody and they call you a nobody, just take a deep breath, tell them nobody's perfect, note the confused look on their face and go about your business. Remember who you are and why you came here...I am Joshua Kent Mitts, I am one of the 13 graduates and we approve this message."

Kicking Horse Job Corps Center is a Department of Labor residential program, operated by the Confederate Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Indian Reservation. The program has operated over 40 years offering vocational training, GED and a High School Diploma Program. The program is free to economically disadvantaged students aged 16-24.

Students work at their own pace to complete the training sooner or later than others, according to Fyant.

Graduations are held four times a year in March, May, September and November, with two breaks in January and July, according to Fyant.

Mitts completed a certificate in Office Administration within 14 months. He received a driver's license and earned a GED. Mitts also earned leadership rolls. He served as a dorm representative and the Sergeant of Arms on the KHJC Student Government. Mitts plan is to join the military.

Other graduates included: Charles Varelman, 22, of Polson graduated with an Office Administration certificate completing it in six months. Varelman plans to attend Salish Kootenai College.

Nathan HerronNathan Herron, 18, of Ronan, graduated with a certificate in Diesel Mechanics completing in 12 months. Herron plans to transfer to Clearfield, Utah for advanced training.

Leonel MarquezLeonel Marquez, 24, member of the Southern Paiute Tribe graduates with a certificate in Diesel Mechanics completing the program in 12 months. Marquez plans to gain more experience at a mechanic shop in St. George, Utah.

Joshua MillsJoshua Mills, 22, member of the Nenana Native Village of Alaska graduated with a certificate in Business Administration completing the program in 6 months. He plans to attend MSU-Billings to become a phlebotomist.

Geneiva BarrientosGeneiva Barrientos, 17, of Denver, Colorado graduated with a certificate in Business Administration within 7 months. Barrientos plans to return to Denver and attend a local college for medical billing and coding.

Candyce CarterCandyce Carter, 20, of Colorado graduated with a certificate in Office Administration, completing it within 8 months. She plans on attending college in Colorado.

Alisha SandsAlisha Sands, 19, of Wyoming graduated with a certificate in Certified Nursing Assistant. She completed her certification in 12 months. Sands plans to work as a CNA at Cheyenne Regional Medical Center.

Jonny Rivera Jonny Rivera, 20, of Colorado graduated with a certificate in Heavy Equipment Operation. He completed the program within 24 months. Rivera plans on seeking work Denver, Colorado.

John TurnerJohn Turner, 21, of Ohio graduated with a certificate in Facilities Maintenance. He completed the training in 10 months. He plans to return home assist in his father's business and seek work.

Lisa PadillaLisa Padilla, 17, of Colorado graduated with a certificate in Certified Nursing Assistant, completing the program in 11 months. She plans to attend college at Pima Medical Institute in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Vocational trainings offered at Kicking Horse Job Corps includes: Heavy Equipment Operation Certified Nursing Assistant, Certified Medical Assistant, Office Administration, Facilities Maintenance, Carpentry, Dental Assistant and Diesel Mechanics. For more information or to schedule a tour of the center, call Kicking Horse Job Corps at (406) 644-2217.

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