Ben Johnson Educational Center in Natchitoches celebrates students' graduation

The Ben D. Johnson Educational Center celebrated its second cohort of graduates on Jan. 31. Program graduates pictured left to right: Keyairra Mitchell, Mario Jackson, Akeadra Nash, and Indenysia Johnson.

NATCHITOCHES, La. (KALB) - The Ben D. Johnson Educational Center in Natchitoches celebrated its second cohort of graduates last Friday.

Founder and Board Chair, Claire Prymus, welcomed the crowd of volunteers, donors, board members, and the four graduates with their families at the Legacy Cafe.

Keyairra Mitchell, Mario Jackson, Akeadra Nash, and Indenysia Johnson made up the latest graduating class.

Offered four times a year, the Legacy Youth Workforce Development Program offers young adults, ages 17 to 24 years old who are out of work and out of school, training in career development, culinary, life and leadership skills, while receiving support to overcome their barriers to employment.

Dallas Russell, Executive Director, highlighted the center’s accomplishments over the last year, including opening the Legacy Café, starting the Legacy Youth Workforce Development Program, and creating the Ben Johnson Garden.

The program culminated with JoAnna Cooper, Program Instructor, acknowledging each student’s accomplishments and providing them with their Legacy Foodservice and Hospitality Training program certificate.

The program participants gained skills over 16 weeks through classroom instruction and hands-on learning during their rotations at the Legacy Café.

Program graduate Keyairra Mitchell, “I stayed motivated through the program because of the kindness and encouragement of the staff at the BDJ center.”

Program graduate Mario Jackson, "I want to be able to provide for my family and the BDJ center has taught me how to do that."
Program graduate Akeadra Nash said she participated in the program, “to better myself and my situation for the sake of my children.”

Program graduate Indenysia Johnson stayed motivated to participate because of her daughter. She said, “Attending the program helped me with my communication skills.”

Founded by Claire Prymus in honor of her late uncle, the Ben D. Johnson Educational Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a mission to build community in Natchitoches and give access to social and economic success for all of its residents.

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