When she first came to the SLATE, Gemma Bitzenburg's prospects appeared bleak. The Medical Technology training she had received in her native country, the Philippines, was not recognized in the U.S., presenting a major barrier to employment. At the same time, she was in the midst of some stressful personal issues as she cared for her toddler son while living in a protective shelter. While she was able to work with a social service agency to secure housing, she was not content to rely on social services and public benefits to secure her future. She came to the SLATE Career Center at Central West End seeking help, both in acquiring the training she needed and finding full-time employment in her chosen field.
Her first step was to develop her resume by enrolling in SLATE's no-cost Workplace Readiness Workshop. After obtaining part-time employment, she successfully applied for a Pell Grant and completed the prerequisites necessary to obtain admission to the Clinical Laboratory Technology Program at St. Louis Community College's Forest Park campus. SLATE continued to assist her, providing additional training funds through the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). Despite the juggling of part-time employment and caring for her son with classes and the required practicum, she persisted, earning her Associates Degree, and attaining her certification as a Medical Laboratory Technician.
Soon after, Bitzenburg secured full-time employment at Missouri Baptist Hospital in Sullivan, MO. She was now faced with a long daily commute but she rose to the challenge as she had with so many others. SLATE was able to provide her with needed supportive services in the form of a gas card for transportation expenses and the acquisition of job-related attire. Bitzenburg plans to relocate to Sullivan to ease the pressure of her daily commute.
SLATE was there for her from the moment she walked through our doors through her post-secondary education, job placement and beyond. By lending a helping hand, SLATE complemented her own tenacity, resolve and drive to succeed, resulting in a more secure future for her and her young son.
St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment