Wesley graduated from high school in 1993 and immediately began his pursuit of the American dream of attending college, starting a family, and building a career. Ultimately, Wesley dreamed of becoming a coach and mentoring young people. Wesley's dream was on track when he applied for and was selected for employment with Dry Branch Kaolin in Twiggs County with a salary of $12.25 an hour at age 19. Wesley found it difficult to return to school and eight years into his career, Wesley's structured world began to crack. The kaolin industry was besieged with takeovers, buyouts, layoffs and plant closings. Wesley's plant had lost more than 50 percent of its employees and was getting smaller. Wesley knew it was just a matter of time before he would be laid off and sure enough, within six months, he too was laid off. Because of the large number of people affected by the layoff, representatives from the Georgia Department of Labor's Rapid Response Team and the Middle Georgia Consortium were dispatched to the plant to assist affected workers with unemployment claims, resume preparation and other career counseling information available through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). This was Wesley's opportunity to return to school with WIA assistance, and Wesley took full advantage of it. Good news! Wesley graduated from Georgia Southern University in 2006 where he earned a Bachelor's Degree in Middle Grades Education. He is currently employed at Warner Robins Middle School with an annual salary of $35,000. Additionally, Wesley is certified to teach all middle grade subjects. Wesley clearly states that without the Consortium's help, he would not have been able to single mindedly focus on completing school because of the extremely high cost of books, tuition and incidental supplies. More important, "without their (Consortium's) assistance with the transportation allowance, child care assistance, and additional assistance for books, it would have been impossible to complete my program of study as quickly as I did. Thanks."
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