At 24-years-old, Lake View resident Angelique Nieves came to the realization that she had spent the last several years stuck in her comfort zone. While she had earned her associate degree in networking systems administration at the same time as her high school diploma, she wasn’t quite sure how to put the degree to use in the real world. And after trying out a few semesters at four-year colleges, she instead opted for jobs in the restaurant business.

Then, when the COVID-19 pandemic brought uncertainty to the industry, Angelique decided it was time to break her current cycle and finally follow her dream of working in the cannabis sector. She did some research online and discovered Olive-Harvey College’s Cannabis Dispensary Operations certificate, one of the college’s newest career and technical education (CTE) programs. Angelique filled out an interest form for the program and quickly heard back from coordinators, who walked her through the next steps of the application process and told her about Project Evolve, a scholarship program that would allow her to earn the certificate for free.

With excitement, Angelique was accepted and enrolled into the 16-week program in late August, learning right away that it would be different than her previous college experiences. Almost immediately, her professors helped her score an internship with MedMen and set up several other opportunities to gain real-world experience. By the time she earned her certificate in December, Angelique could see a path forward in the field because she was already building her resume and network.

Additionally, as she was looking for full-time positions in the industry, Angelique heard from OHC staff about an opportunity to serve as a community relations coordinator at Cresco Labs, a cannabis company operating in multiple states, where she would be responsible for enhancing Cresco’s diversity and inclusion initiatives when entering new markets. While the job description sounded extremely different from her position as a dispensary agent at MedMen, she felt well-prepared for both opportunities thanks to her courses at Olive-Harvey.

Earlier this year, Angelique found out she got the job and was able to negotiate a great starting salary. Receiving a steady income and employee benefits for the first time in her life, Angelique can’t wait to continue her professional growth in the cannabis industry.

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