Melissa Cardenas came to the WAPDD WIOA Title I-B program a high school senior at Waldron High School. She had already turned 18 when she applied, and from the moment I met her I thought she was going to do well! Melissa had many “barriers” that would have caused many to fail, such as living in a high poverty area, being an ESL student, and coming from a single parent home. Where many would have let these determine their future, Melissa decided to do something about it!

I met with Melissa at the Waldron High School and we discussed her goals and future. She was going through a program in school that allowed her some job-shadowing opportunities with the Elementary School, and she thought this was a great fit for her. We discussed the demand of these positions and both thought this would be a good long-term goal for her. Melissa had been working part-time for McDonald’s but would really like to get into a position she can work more directly with either students or people in general, so I arranged her an interview with a local assisted living facility Dalton’s Place.

Melissa interviewed with Dalton’s Place and the staff fell in love with her! She started working and quickly became one of the favorites of the residents too. Misty, Melissa’s supervisor, after a few months even hired her part-time to work more hours than we could authorize. During this time, Melissa spoke with me about her goals and plans. After experiencing this she fell in love with nursing and really wanted to gain a CNA and later LPN/RN license. I told her that I was thrilled to here that she was enjoying work experience so much and that I thought this was an excellent decision to pursue.

Melissa, with the aid of Dalton’s Place, started to attend Petra Allied Health in Fort Smith, Arkansas while she was finishing her High School. Unfortunately, like so many others the COVID-19 Coronavirus caused her High School to move to all virtual learning. Melissa was determined to complete though and graduated on May 15th, 2020! She completed her training at Petra, and I am thrilled to say that as of June 17th, 2020 she was hired full-time as a CNA at Dalton’s Place!

Melissa went through a lot her senior year of Waldron High School, from working part-time at McDonald’s to having to miss out on her graduation and senior prom because of COVID-19, but through it all she came out ahead of where most High School graduates are in such a short time. She is now not only a full-time employee of a facility whose residents and staff love her, but also on a career pathway that can truly make her financially self-sufficient. Melissa will always be one of my favorite success stories to tell and I am honored to have been a part of it.


-Michael Rosenberg

Workforce Career Advisor

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