Erion celebrates her high school graduation with a visit to WMCAT, where she was a teen artist for four years.

Don’t even think of trying to stand in the way of Erion Adams’ career in tech. The 20-year-old may be “the baby” of her new WMCAT class in SQL programming, but her years of working as an entrepreneur and starting and stopping college have only solidified her goals.

“I’ve never had a career,” Erion said. “I didn’t finish college after finding out none of the majors were for me. After hearing a lot of negative views on my decision to not finish college, I am excited to prove those people wrong and become a successful Black woman in tech.”

Today Erion is on her way as part of WMCAT’s new pilot program with Xpanxion Step IT Up America and Spectrum Health to train professionals in coding languages and programming, while paying them a living wage during their four months of training, and guaranteeing a one-year paid apprenticeship with potential for long-term careers.


SQL programming students with staff representatives from Xpanxion Step IT Up America, Spectrum Health, and WMCAT.

This earn-and-learn model is a new way of approaching workforce development. WMCAT is exploring what it looks like to provide students with income stability now, while providing a path to income security later. While we continue to offer our core, tuition-free training pathways in medical coding, medical billing, and pharmacy technician, WMCAT also realizes the landscape has shifted and that work will look different in the future. How can we continue to center the voices of our students, while trying new models of career training?

Erion and her classmates are helping us answer these questions. And, they’re using this opportunity as their next step to sustained economic security.

“After the apprenticeship ends I am looking forward to starting my career in tech in general,” said Erion. “My goal is to become a software engineer and this program has been great for introducing me to the fundamentals in a small class.”

While in WMCAT’s Step Year program, Erion created this plan for her future.