July 27, 2017

New state labor secretary visits Worcester YouthWorks program

Grant Welker
Massachusetts Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta, left, took a tour of the Tufts at Tech animal care center at Worcester Technical High School Wednesday. Dr. Gregory Wolfus, the program director, was joined by students Kaejah Gonzalez, Carlos Santiago, Lupia Marchezi and Shannon Quinlan.

Still in her first month on the job, new Massachusetts Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta made Worcester her first stop Wednesday among dozens of YouthWorks programs statewide.

Acosta visited the Tufts at Tech program, where Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine's clinic works with students in Worcester Technical High School's veterinary technician program. Five Worcester Tech students are working at Tufts at Tech this summer as part of YouthWorks's summer teen employment program.

"I'm thrilled to see what's going on here," Acosta said during an hour-long tour, which included talking to the high-schoolers in the program.

Tufts at Tech is one of several participating in YouthWorks programs across the area this summer. The Central Massachusetts Workforce Development Board received just over $600,000 to serve more than 220 area youth between age 14 and 21. For many, it is their first job and a chance to gain valuable experience during the summer.

Statewide, YouthWorks has given jobs to 44,000 youths in the past decade, according to Commonwealth Corporation, the quasi-state agency administering the program. Most participating youths are from low-income or single-parent families or face other challenges.

In Central Massachusetts, employers taking part in the program include Quinsigamond Community College, the Seven Hills Foundation, the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and Worcester State University.

At Tufts at Tech, five Worcester Tech students - Ethan Aubin, Kaejah Gonzalez, Lupia Marchezi, Shannon Quinlan and Carlos Santiago-Ortiz - learn from Tufts veterinarians and veterinary students. Four students present for the tour Wednesday said they have pets of their own, and that working at the animal clinic has been instructive.

"I realize work can be fun," Quinlan said, drawing laughs. "Normally, it's like, you don't want to go to work."

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