Hillary Castillo paid nearly $38,000 for her former education and training when the expense became too much and caused her to drop out of school. Today, she is on a fast track to a high-paying, rewarding career in machining as a Polk State Metallica Scholar and the affordability is nearly unbelievable to Castillo because it is free.
“The opportunity of having this program for free is phenomenal. It gives a lot of people who are in the same situation I was in the opportunity to advance themselves and find a career that they can make a decent income in while loving what they do, and without having anything holding them back,” Castillo said.
Polk State Metallica Scholars complete the College’s Computer Numeric Control (CNC) Machining Program in eight weeks without the cost of tuition or materials and are also provided with the funds to take exams for six National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) certifications that qualify individuals for high-wage jobs that are in demand locally and beyond.
This is all thanks to Metallica’s All Within My Hands Foundation (AWMH) in partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). Polk State is one school from a competitive field of colleges across the country to receive a total of $150,000 in grants from AWMH.
“I didn’t see myself being able to have this opportunity [to go back to school and receive additional training],” Castillo explained. “I would thank Metallica for giving me the opportunity to take this course and for helping me financially with something I could not pay for.”
Castillo aspires to become a freelance machinist and own her own machine shop one day. CNC machinery precision-cuts, grinds, or drills materials, and machinists are the technicians who adjust machines to control the speed, the material fed, and the path of the cut. They make sure the machines are set up properly, working efficiently, and producing high-quality products.
While the program is open to individuals with little to no technical background, Castillo’s experience in maintenance has benefited her as she builds new skillsets.
“The opportunity of having this program for free is phenomenal. It gives a lot of people who are in the same situation I was in the opportunity to advance themselves and find a career that they can make a decent income in while loving what they do, and without having anything holding them back.”
“I want to broaden my knowledge and my career opportunities,” she said. “My goal is to work for a machining company, gain a lot of hands-on knowledge in the field, and have more flexibility in my job to allow me to live my life with my daughter while making the money I need to make for my family.”
When Castillo learned of the Polk State Metallica Scholar opportunity, classes were starting in just one week.
“I put everything on pause to take advantage of this because I knew this would help me in the long run,” she said. “The instructors and the advisors have been really helpful. Here at Polk State, I feel like they truly care. They treat you like family.”
Individuals who are interested in free, short-term training through the Polk State Metallica Scholars Program should contact Coordinator Jamie Rowan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 863.837.5954.
The CNC Machining Program’s next sessions will start on January 10, March 7, and May 9. More information is available at www.polk.edu/metallica.