The Path to Prosperity

Last month we featured the story of Diane, a hardworking medical assistant in Clearfield County and graduate of the Brockway Center for Arts and Technology (BCAT) medical assistant program. Her goal—which she achieved—was to land a job with quality pay and regular hours.

BCAT has helped more than 100 people like Diane. Their model succeeds because it recognizes work is the pathway to permanent prosperity and their students want to contribute to their communities and find meaningful careers. In fact, BCAT students are asked to volunteer in exchange for their no-cost education.

The results are uplifting, just like the story of a single mom named Hillary Brouse.

Hillary worked hard as a bartender, but the late hours weren’t ideal for her toddler son. Living in rural Elk County, she worked part-time with an unpredictable schedule and no benefits for her family. Then Hillary found the BCAT Pharmacy Technician program.

Though the program does not charge tuition, Hillary still had to secure childcare for her son and didn’t qualify for childcare benefits. Going to school as a single mom was difficult, but in the end, it was all worth it. “I wanted to say I did it on my own,” says Hillary, with great pride in her new career.

Hillary now works a steady job with benefits in St. Mary’s. About a year ago she moved out of her parents’ house into a home she rents.

When asked about the power of work, she notes: “We shouldn’t help those who refuse to help others; everyone can volunteer. It is the little things that make a big difference. Those things speak volumes.”

When asked about her future Hillary notes, “I didn’t know if I wanted to do medical [work], but now I like my job and would love to go to school to be a pharmacist someday.”

Like BCAT, the latest welfare reform efforts in Pennsylvania focus on connecting healthy low-income adults with employment. Over the past two weeks, the Pennsylvania house passed HB 2138 to implement a work requirement for healthy adults on Medicaid, and HB 1659 which limits waiving work requirements for healthy adults using food stamps.

Stories like Diane and Hillary's shouldn't be limited to BCAT students or rural Pennsylvania—work and job training requirements can help thousands more Pennsylvanians achieve their own story of success.