First BCCC student earns GED incentive through NextGen program

Published 3:27 pm Monday, December 11, 2023

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Jaden Hooten is the first student at Beaufort County Community College to receive a $100 incentive from NCWorks’s NextGen program for completing his GED at the college. The program creates incentives for disadvantaged youth to gain job skills and employment. Hooten is already enrolled for spring college classes and plans to transfer to North Carolina State University to major in computer science.

The NextGen program is an employment program for youth ages 16-24 through NCWorks, but students can take advantage of incentives for training with the goal of gaining unsubsidized employment. Qualifying youth also have at least one barrier to employment, including that they dropped out of high school, have low income, have a criminal background, are pregnant or parenting, are deficient in basic skills, are homeless, have a disability, have been in foster care, or are a new English language learner.

Students can also receive an incentive for completing the Career Readiness Certificate (CRC), a certificate to help employers assess workplace skills when hiring a new employee. The CRC is offered at BCCC and high school equivalency students are encouraged to complete this class, as well. If students show improvement on their TABE test scores, they can also receive an incentive.

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The NextGen incentive is also available to youth who gain unsubsidized employment, complete high school, attend job fairs or show measurable skill gains such as improving grades in school. The program can even help place youth to give them on-the-job training before they move on to an employer of their choice.

Hooten pushed himself through the GED program as fast as possible. He had been homeschooled and, due to complications at the end of his schooling, he was unable to complete his schooling or enroll in a traditional high school. He took it upon himself to earn a GED, completing the program in just a month and a half, slowed only by testing schedules. He is already registered for spring classes so he can earn an associate in science before transferring to NC State University into a computer science program.

Hooten wondered if colleges would be biased against him because he earned a GED instead of a traditional diploma, but the staff at the college helped him rethink that.

“I thought GEDs were frowned upon but seeing that people were so willing to help and encouraging, it was very nice to see a different light of it,” he said.

He encourages others to come to the Career and College Readiness program at the college, where students can earn their GED, earn a CRC or get digital literacy certificates to position them for college or employment, and possibly qualify for an incentive through the Next Gen program.

“Tell whoever wants to hear it, they can do whatever they want and set their mind to and get rid of anybody in their life that tells them they can’t,” he said.

When students attend orientation for the GED program, they are screened for eligibility for the NextGen program and connected to Penny Guilford, career advisor for NextGen.