Job Corps Employer Partners a Sweet Deal for Hawaii Students

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“Aloha,” from Chef Charlie Owen. “Thank you to Job Corps for providing great training. Over the past couple of years, we have had the opportunity to hire several, actually many, Job Corps students.”

Another believer in the Hawaii Job Corps program. Chef Owen is the executive chef of the Hula Grill in Maui—a great employer partner who’s passionate about Job Corps, so much so that Hula Grill has hired several culinary arts graduates from the Maui campus.

Charlie says, “The students are lucky to be trained by instructor Larry Tuzon.”

Job Corps student Zoya Renguul agrees, “I love my teacher. He’s my culinary instructor, my mentor, my counselor. He motivates us to do so much. And, he gives us the confidence to do what we need to do, push ourselves, and meet our goals.”

Hawaii Job Corps Center Director Ellen May adds, “Larry has been able to cultivate relationships with the Maui community and industry here for a number of years, which mean opportunity for our students.”

Larry knows community partnerships benefit his students who end up getting great jobs in their future careers.

“The most rewarding part of my job,” says Larry, “is having the students go out there prepared. My students are in demand, and that’s awesome.”

Marshall Norman, site director at the Maui campus, also believes in internships, or as Job Corps puts it, work-based learning partnerships in the community.

“Our culinary arts program is dependent upon the work of our work-based learning partners. We have numerous work-based learning partners that consist of corporate hotels to private restaurants.”

One of those restaurants is the Haliimaile General Store restaurant in Maui. Chef Bev Gannon and Chef Mark McDowell have worked with Maui students for almost 15 years.

Chef McDowell loves the experience, “We’ve had a number of Job Corps students come through. [I’m] very impressed with Job Corps and very impressed with Larry Tuzon the chef there at Job Corps. With all the relationships and mentoring he does, the students do well. And, I’m extremely happy with the employees I’ve hired after their Job Corps training. I want to thank them very much for letting us be in partnerships with them.”

Marshall Norman adds, “For many years, we have really cultivated these restaurants to be a premier learning environment for our culinary-arts students. Culinary-arts students go into those restaurants and learn what it really means to work in an agile, fast paced, fast-flowing restaurant environment that serves many patrons throughout the day.”

Job Corps graduate Nikilani Rojas has worked at the Haliimaile General Store restaurant for over a year now. She loves her new job and is appreciative of that federal program called Job Corps. And, she considers herself a success story.

So, between Larry the Job Corps instructor and the community of chefs on the beautiful island of Maui, these students are going to be all right; and, very well trained.

“It’s very humbling,” says Center Director Ellen May, “when you start to think about this relationship and what it does in terms of paying off for students long run.”