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Explore New Careers with FM’s COCAL Program

Posted: February 12, 2014 — Amy Radik

After a long career in textbook production and watching the field move to India, Lisa Herider was categorized as a dislocated worker. She found a federal program called Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) which helps trade-affected workers who have lost their jobs as a result of increased imports or shifts in production out of the United States. Over the next year, she completed all of the paperwork to have her last employer certified and accepted into the program. She was then eligible to receive program benefits and services to return to employment.

“My very supportive parents allowed me to move back home while I completed my retraining,” says Lisa. “I selected FM to further my education because of its proximity to them and because I would be able to get on-the-job training. I knew the field I chose had to have a favorable job growth outlook to be approved for funding. I had transferrable office skills; therefore, I chose the medical field and designed an Associate in Occupational Studies program (Medical Office Specialist) with the help of college mentors and approval of the Dean of Academic Affairs. I enrolled in FM’s Collaborative Career Learning program (COCAL) which combines classroom learning and hands-on workplace experience.”

Sharon Poling, Professor and Director of Collaborative Career Learning and Experiential Education, helped Lisa navigate through the COCAL program. “She was my academic advisor and made sure I met graduation requirements within my reduced time frame,” says Lisa. “She was also a faculty mentor for me.   Faculty and staff were always willing to go the extra mile to help me whenever I needed it.”

The faculty and staff helped Lisa get back into the field she loves; working in higher education. “I am currently employed at FM as the Confidential Secretary to the Vice President for Administration and Finance,” states Lisa. “My future goals are to continue learning new computer software application programs and earn a Bachelor’s degree.”

Lisa, a graduate of Wells Central High School and a current resident of Broadalbin, plays classical flute music, creates folk art, and enjoys feeding birds and watching wildlife in her backyard when given the opportunity. She is a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, Fulton County, and a past volunteer for the same organization based in Indianapolis, Indiana. She has done volunteer work for Girls, Inc., an organization inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold; the Lake Pleasant Library helping at the desk and reading to children in the summer; and served as a Board Member for the Speculator Chamber of Commerce. “Giving back to your community is an important part of living a balanced life,” she says.

As a non-traditional student, Lisa found she was more motivated to focus on her goal of earning a degree now than she was when she was just out of high school. “I discovered it’s never too late to go back to college. I was a Distinguished Graduate in Individual Studies (AOS) at age 48. FM has a wonderful financial aid group with degree and certificate programs, as well as internships through the COCAL program. The opportunities are endless if you have the drive. Don’t be afraid to explore new career opportunities. Help is out there, you just have to ask,” she says.

Amy Radik is the Coordinator of Public Relations and Marketing at FM.

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