ATLANTIC CITY — As the 15 names of city residents who graduated from the Training to Hire program were called on Friday, two were called together: a mother and son duo.

Priska Conrad, 44, and her son Juwan Conrad, 18, entered the 12-week program together and graduated at a ceremony at the Noyes Arts Garage with jobs in construction.

“He inspired me, he pushed me,” Priska Conrad said. “It’s crazy, because it’s usually the other way around.”

The Conrads were among the 15 people – all who did not have prior construction experience – who graduated from the program that trained Atlantic City residents the necessary skills to obtain a construction job.

The program is sponsored by Hard Rock investors Jack Morris and Joseph Jingoli & Son, Inc., along with Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, and it was led by Anthony Brower, who leads the Atlantic City nonprofit Friends in Action.

The graduates took courses and completed the requirements necessary to work in construction in areas such as HVAC, electrical work and job safety. They also completed requirements of the 30-hour program mandated by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“This is where you want to come and find really good, smart hard-working men and women,” Jingoli said.

Priska heard about the program through Brower, and wondered if there was a spot for her, too.

“I said, ‘You got another spot open?’ I told my son if he did it, I would do it with him,” she said.

They were in a rough spot when they started the program, she said, both financially and personally. But now they’re seeing hope.

“Things are starting to look brighter for us,” Juwan Conrad said.

The residents who completed the program will have jobs working with Joseph Jingoli & Son, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, the Atlantic City Gateway project and other subcontractors, officials said.

Matt Harkness, president Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, remembered the day the program began in December from inside a trailer on the site of the Gateway project. Now, 100 percent of the class graduated with a career — not just a job, he said.

Atlantic City Mayor Frank Gilliam said the graduation ceremony was a testament to individuals investing in themselves.

“Without programs like this, you would never get an opportunity to see the brilliant people that we have in Atlantic City,” Gilliam said.

Contact: 609-272-7239 Twitter @ACPressSerpico

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