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Recent CCRI grad receives scholarship, tool kit

July 17, 2014

Leisha Torres receives the Grainger scholarship. Jim Crowley (left), manager of W.W. Grainger Inc.’s Rhode Island market, and Jose Samayoa, the Grainger account manager who serves CCRI, present the Grainger Tools for Tomorrow scholarship and a customized Westward tool kit to Leisha Torres of Providence, who graduated from CCRI with an Associate in Science degree in Engineering Systems Technology in May.

Leisha Torres of Providence, who graduated from the Community College of Rhode Island with an Associate in Science degree in Engineering Systems Technology in May, recently was awarded a $2,000 Grainger Tools for Tomorrow scholarship by Grainger, a local distributor of facilities maintenance supplies.

Torres said science and technology have always held her interest. "What captured my attention was engineering systems technology course work, which allowed a broad range of technological disciplines that support industries vital to our society such as manufacturing, facility maintenance and power industries," she wrote in her application. "The stimulating coursework simulated 'real-world' problems and manufacturing processes that enhanced daily life, and that in itself is rewarding."

She said her greatest achievement was applying concepts she learned in classes and communicating ideas to others. She noted that in her classes, team projects and presentations were assigned so that students could demonstrate not only mastery of the material but also develop the ability to explain the subject to others.

Torres said she would like to work in technical support to public works and also wants to pursue a bachelor's degree that integrates volunteer work along with the academic program. "Although, the importance is not only my goals but that the skills I develop assist and complement society," she wrote.

Many businesses that rely on skilled workers report difficulty finding qualified individuals to fill open jobs. In fact, skilled trades have been the hardest segment of the workforce for employers to staff for the last three years, according to ManpowerGroup.

To promote the innovation and importance of careers in the industrial skilled trades, Grainger, in conjunction with the American Association of Community Colleges, launched the Grainger Tools for Tomorrow scholarship program in 2006 to help students in the industrial skilled trades realize their educational and career goals. During the 2013-14 academic year, Grainger awarded the Grainger Tools for Tomorrow scholarship to 129 students at 70 community colleges in the U.S., with half of the scholarships targeted to U.S. Armed Forces veterans. Upon graduation, each student receives a customized Westward® tool kit from Grainger to jump-start their career.

"Grainger is investing in the future of industry and communities through the Grainger Tools for Tomorrow Scholarship Program," said Jim Crowley, market manager of Grainger's Rhode Island market. "We are proud to partner with CCRI and believe business and community college partnerships are one solution to building a stronger workforce."

Peter Woodberry, dean of Business, Science and Technology, said the college is grateful for the opportunities Grainger provides CCRI students through the scholarship. "It is a fantastic award to help our students of great merit continue their technical studies and, with the generous tool kit they receive upon graduation, begin their careers with everything they need," he said. "We look forward to a continuing partnership with Grainger in our shared goal of preparing students to succeed in these career fields."

Grainger also developed an interactive skilled trades Playbook in conjunction with Skills for America's Future that connects businesses and community colleges in an effort to boost local workforce development. This one-stop, how-to guide with tips, best practices and other tools to help businesses and community colleges work together to train and advance workers in the industrial skilled trades is available online.

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Last Updated: 8/25/16