Individuals with Disabilities Benefit from Michigan Career and Technical Institute's
It had been nearly two hours since the graduates crossed the stage, but Johnathan Perchikoff still proudly sported his cap and gown.
“I’m the first member of my family, on my mom’s side, to go to college, so it’s an exciting time for all of us,” Perchikoff beamed, adjusting the yellow tassel dangling from his green mortar cap.
“I love this place.”
“This place” is Michigan Career and Technical Institute (MCTI), an educational center for adults with disabilities in southwest Barry County on Pine Lake. MCTI’s individualized career assessment services help students explore job options. Perchikoff and 146 of his classmates had just celebrated their accomplishments during MCTI’s Winter Graduation on February 7, an event that happened to align perfectly with Career and Technical Education Month in Michigan.
Career and technical education provides students with an opportunity to learn the skills needed for in-demand careers in a variety of fields and prepares students to become lifelong learners.
MCTI is operated by Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS), which is part of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. MCTI has 13 training programs, each with an active advisory committee made up of people who work in that industry and help ensure the school’s curriculum and equipment meet business standards and needs.
“Our goal is to increase access to success in achieving a postsecondary credential and overcoming barriers to employment," MCTI Director Paul Mulka said. "That mission also aligns with Governor Whitmer’s goals. We’re proud of the work we do here – we make a very real difference in people’s lives.”
Case in point: Matthew Johnston, who received his certification in Machine Technology.
“I first heard about MCTI through MRS and our high school staff, and they thought it would be a good fit for me,” said Johnston, who graduated from Clarenceville High School in Livonia before enrolling in MCTI.
“I took the placement exam that all new students take at MCTI, and it said I qualified for several different trades,” he said. “You have a lot of options here, but you have to love what you do, and that’s why I decided to focus on CNC (computer numerically controlled) machines. I love that technology.”
Jeff Gagnon, MCTI’s Machine Tech Instructor, agreed with Johnston’s self-assessment. “It takes tireless dedication and commitment to be successful at any level, and Matt and the other graduates definitely demonstrated that,” he said. “We help connect students with their skills and interests.”
The second-largest rehabilitation training center in the country, MCTI strives to promote the integration of Michiganders with disabilities into both the competitive workplace and society.
Students can enroll in technical training programs in automotive technology, cabinet making/millwork, certified nurse assistant, commercial printing, construction, culinary arts, and many others.
“Once you select your career path, MCTI does a great job of matching up students with companies so you can get work experience to go along with what you’re learning in the classroom,” Johnston said. “I’ve been working at Schupan & Sons in Kalamazoo. They’re a great company. They’ve been really helpful, and I’ve gotten some great compliments from my supervisor.
“They offered me the chance to work there after graduation, so I’m really excited about that.”
Johnathan Perchikoff, still wearing his cap and gown, earned his MCTI degree in Culinary Arts.
“I’m from the Old Redford part of Detroit, so moving out to the west side of the state was a big change, but it was really worth it,” he said.
While attending MCTI, Perchikoff gained valuable professional experience working in food service at Gun Lake Casino. “Gun Lake is a great place to be, and they’ve offered me a job after graduation,” he said. “I’m very excited, and I’m very thankful.
“If someone asked me if they should go to MCTI, I would say yes,” said Perchikoff, readjusting the tassel on his graduation cap. “You owe it to yourself to check it out. I don’t think there’s any place like it.”
Learn more about MCTI by visiting Michigan.gov/MCTI.