Prairie View A&M vocational students complete first of three classes offered in Cleveland

Students, teachers and people who were instrumental in bringing vocational classes to Cleveland celebrated the completion of a welding course for the first 20 students on Jan. 11. The classes are being offered by Prairie View A&M's Texas Rural Workforce Academy and a grant by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Through a partnership with Prairie View A&M University, the Professional Career Training Institute and the City of Cleveland, 20 Cleveland-area residents have the skills needed to work as a beginning welder. Twelve of the 20 already had job opportunities lined up by the time the class graduated on Jan. 11.

The free training for the students – 19 men and one woman – was provided through a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce to Prairie View’s Texas Rural Workforce Academy. In addition to welding classes, the grant covered the cost of classes to train students in nursing, construction and electrical technology. Some of these classes were held at Prairie View while others, like the one that just wrapped up in Cleveland, were held in rural communities.

Eisha Jones, a financial consultant from Cleveland and a lifetime resident of the city, was instrumental in bringing Prairie View A&M’s vocational classes to Cleveland. She is seen speaking to welding students on Jan. 11.

“Once this grant is over, the next challenge is how do we continue offering programs like this. We hope that by the fact that some of our elected officials are here today for the graduation that we will be able to locate other grant opportunities to offer this class beyond its pilot year,” said Dr. Gerard D’Souza, dean of Agriculture and Human Services and director of the Land Grant Program for Prairie View A&M.

Dr. D’Souza congratulated the students in the class, telling them, “You are already on your way to earning a living and helping the community better itself.”

Instructors Roy Jones and Sirpatrick Phillips were assigned to the class by the Professional Career Training Institute (PCTI) in Houston.

PCTI CEO Carrie Poole told Bluebonnet News she is grateful for the opportunity to work with Prairie View to bring the training to Liberty County.

“It has been an exceptional experience. These students are so motivated. We really want these students to be successful. The Rural Texas Workforce Academy is new to us but it’s just exceptional. The support we’ve had while working with Prairie View has been awesome,” Poole said.

A second welding class has already begun and a construction class will take place this March in the Cleveland area. Both of the classes are filled; however, anyone with an interest in taking a class through the Texas Rural Workforce Academy should apply online at

State Rep. Ernest Bailes praises vocational students for successfully completing a welding course through Prairie View A&M’s Texas Rural Workforce Academy.
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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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