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All-American Success Stories in Workforce Education

 Natural Talent and a Lifetime Dream

Ramonica Flagler, First Place Winner
Career & Technical Education, Region 2

Ramonica has enjoyed styling hair since she was 14. In October 2001, she entered the cosmetology program at First Coast Technical Institute (FCTI) in St. Augustine, Florida. A single mother of three children and the legal guardian of four teenage girls, Ramonica was determined to complete the program while working full time at Flagler Hospital as a patient care technician on the 3:00 p.m.- 11:00 p.m. shift. She said, "It was difficult because I did not get to spend much time with my children during my schooling. I would take them to school in the morning and would not get to see them until midnight." She added that her family was supportive during this time and helped with the children by attending meetings and school activities for her. While in school, she maintained perfect attendance and an "A" average.

In November of 2002, she completed the program and passed the Florida State Board of Cosmetology exam. She worked part time at a salon for five months while continuing to work full time at Flagler Hospital. In March 2003, she opened her own salon called Miracles. Ramonica named her salon Miracles because as she says, "God has blessed me with a talent and I`m sharing with others by doing things I would have never imagined."

Ramonica is a volunteer with the local Pop Warner cheerleading squad and the Bread of Heaven Soup Kitchen, which prepares and serves meals to local homeless individuals and families. As a salon owner, she is a member of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce and serves on the First Coast Technical Institute's Cosmetology Advisory Council. On May 6, 2003, she was presented with the "Award of Excellence" at FCTI for being committed and determined no matter what the obstacles were. Ramonica stated, "Remember, with dedication, commitment, motivation and determination, you can achieve whatever you want in life."

 A Non-traditional Venture

Shannon Wittwer, Second Place Winner
Career & Technical Education, Region 2

According to Shannon Wittwer, "The best decision I ever made for myself was to go into the Automotive Program. I have never been more challenged, more satisfied or happier." When Shannon acquired her first used car at 16, she wanted to do everything herself to keep it running. It never occurred to her that she could be a successful mechanic and make a living repairing cars. Shannon entered the Automotive Service Technology Program at Santa Fe Community College just to learn more about cars. She immediately knew that she had found her career. During her school years, she worked two jobs in order to support herself and rode her bike and the bus to get to school. Small in stature, Shannon had to overcome barriers of physical strength and size as well as adjust to working in an all male environment. Shannon excelled in her classes, won the admiration of her peers and teachers, and was awarded the Automotive Technology Scholarship.

In August of 2003, Shannon graduated with her Associate of Science degree. Even before she had her diploma in hand, she was hired by All Pro Imports where she remains a valued employee. Her supervisor, Jerry Brown, said, "Shannon has come a long way since she has been here. She is not afraid to tackle anything, even if it is bigger than she is! She is very dependable, respectful and fun to work with. With her skill, enthusiasm and grit, Shannon is a success in an area that has long been dominated by men." She looks forward each day to going to work and is a pioneer woman in her field.

Shannon took a course as a first responder and is certified in CPR and the automatic external defibrillator machine. She volunteered to be part of a response team in case of a catastrophic event in the community. Shannon is a wonderful role model for young girls who have mechanical skills and interest but are afraid to venture into nontraditional careers.

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