Just a few years ago, Katie Everly was struggling with drug addiction while trying to plot her path in life.
"I attempted college, but I dropped out," Everly recalled. "I was making bad decisions."
Today, Everly is back in school studying to become an engineering technician through the West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) Transportation Engineering Technicians (TRET) training program. Under the program, the WVDOH pays for employees to go back to school to broaden their skill sets and grow both within the WVDOH and personally.
"I know how to use a snowplow, and I can run equipment," Everly said. "I want to learn something I don't know.
"This is my forever job."
Everly went to work for the WVDOH in Ohio County in September 2021. She immediately went to work to get her CDL.
Everly's boss, District 6 Engineer Tony Clark, P.E., said Everly displayed that kind of drive from the moment she walked in the door.
But Everly wouldn't be working for the WVDOH at all had it not been for Gov. Jim Justice's Jobs & Hope West Virginia program.
Through a collaboration with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources and state Department of Education, Jobs & Hope offers a personalized plan for each participant in the program outlining education and career opportunities to get off drugs and into the workplace.
With one-on-one help, it worked for Everly.
"It's amazing to be here," Everly said after graduating from the program. "To overcome what I did takes a lot of hard work, dedication, determination and willingness to want a better life."
Today, Everly is excited to continue her education.
"I love it," she said. "I'm learning a lot. I want to get my bachelor's degree and become an engineer."
About Jobs and Hope:
Jobs & Hope West Virginia is the state's comprehensive response to the substance use disorder crisis. Established by Governor Jim Justice and the West Virginia Legislature, this program offers support through a statewide collaboration of agencies that provide West Virginians in recovery the opportunity to obtain career training and to ultimately secure meaningful employment.