MILWAUKEE — Friday was Joshua Hollins’ first day working in the kitchen at Alverno College as part of Milwaukee Public School’s '’School-to-Work’' transition program for students with disabilities.
“I think I would do well,” Hollins said as he started his day.
He received his training from Jorge Domenech, a fellow classmate at MPS, who is also part of the School-to-Work transition program.
“We’re working on ranch cups,” Domenech said as he started showing Hollins what he needed to do. "Got to make a full tray of it today."
Domenech, who’s been working at Alverno College for a few days now, has his routine down to a science.
“I always wash my hands and put my gloves on. I head to the fruits, make the fruit cups. Once I’m done with the fruit cups, I make the mixed fruit cups,” Domenech said. "From there, I start messing with the grapes, and make grape cups and everything else.”
It’s part of the transition program’s community assessment training program.
These students are earning school credit while they receive vocational training to meet their needs and goals.
“It gives them an opportunity to explore every possible avenue they would want in the world of work, and more than that, building up a sense of self, a sense of being confident and knowing I can be productive,” said Stephanie O’Connor-Schutt, supervisor of the of MPS School-to-Work transition program
O’Connor Schutt said there are about 500 students with disabilities who are involved with the program every year, which encompasses much more than just kitchen prep work.
“We do events around mock interviews, and workforce development opportunities, college tours,” O’Connor-Schutt said.
That has helped students with disabilities find jobs in health care, hospitality, human services and construction, among other fields, for more than three decades.
Hollins, who graduates in May, has already been hired to be a security guard for events at Fiserv Forum, and he credited the program for helping him.
“I’m very excited, I’m glad I got the job, and I have orientation on Monday,” Hollins said.
Domenech said he enjoys the program as he gets to learn about so many different potential careers, and get the skills to be successful in them.
“Wherever works for you, works for you," he said.