WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — Where there is a wheel, Alex Deleon-Cruz will find a way.
“I enjoy this job,” said Deleon-Cruz, manager at Discount Tire. “Wherever they need me, I’m more than willing to help.”
The 20-year-old makes a living at Discount Tire. It’s a job he has held since he was a senior at Kelloggsville High School.
“I did not know what I wanted to do, if I’m being completely honest,” said Deleon-Cruz. “‘I was like, ‘Hey, man, whatever happens, happens.'”
Then John Linker happened. He’s the academic dean of students who leads Kelloggsville High School’s school-to-work program.
It’s what connected Deleon-Cruz to his gig.
“It’s been great,” said Linker. “The students have been extremely positive with it because now there’s that connection.”
The school-to-work program is a class that introduces seniors and juniors to future employers.
They all job shadow before they commit, can get paid and earn a school credit for participation.
“We try to partner with businesses where a student can get into that field,” said Linker. “Maybe it’s entry-level, but the students have a career with it, whatever it might be.”
Linker resurrected the program about eight years ago. He said it hung in the balance for 20 years because of low interest and budget cuts.
Success stories help keep it alive.
“I had a student who had gone through our program. It was just a couple of days before graduation. I’m like, ‘Hey, I heard you got a full-time position,'” said Linker. “Dude, then his eyes, all of a sudden, it was waterworks, and I’m like, ‘Woah, OK.'”
Deleon-Cruz carries around that same level of gratitude.
“They gave me this opportunity, and I’m more than grateful for it,” said Deleon-Cruz.
He now uses his work with wheels to align himself with his purpose.
“For me, I don’t really care about promotions, as long as I can take care of people, make sure everyone gets home to their families and have fun as well,” said Deleon-Cruz.
Linker said the program has about a 60% success rate. He said that percentage also reflects the number of students who turn down hiring opportunities because those jobs don’t coincide with their passion.