Del Mar offers inmates a second chance through special program
Sep 01, 2023
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A program at Del Mar College is offering students — including former inmates — a chance to get certifications in The National Center of Construction Education and Research.
Students gain safety skills on the construction job site with an emphasis on concrete reinforcing materials.They also learn safe handling and rebar (a steel bar used in concrete construction) placement skills.
The course is open to anyone, and is the result of a partnership between Del Mar College and Bechtel, an engineering, construction and project management company. Bechtel provides mentorship, course materials and tools necessary for successful course completion and a career in the construction industry.
Leo Bernard is one of the five inmates taking this course through Del Mar's Second Chances program. He said he was ready for a change because nothing in his past ever did anything good for him.
“I was dumped in a motel when I was 14," Bernard said. "I have been to prison a couple times, a lot of it was from my own decision making but there comes a point in time where you just got to change.”
Gary Griffith has been the lead instructor for workforce development for 13 years. He said this particular program is unique because he feels like he is making a difference.
“I am really excited about it because I have developed a relationship with each one of these guys," Griffith said. "And I see they have hope in their eyes for the first time probably in a long time.”
Students are gaining additional hands-on knowledge of the rebar cutting machine, along with safe ridging and welding practices.
Once the students complete the course, they will get 100 hours of NCCER credits and can apply for rebar helper positions at Bechtel.
“I didn’t even finish high school, I got a GED, so college was the last thing I expected in life," Bernard said. "But thanks to them, they opened the doors to us, and they showed us love, and they showed us that we all deserve a second chance.”
For the latest local news updates, click here, or download the KRIS 6 News App.