SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Across the U.S. and in NEPA, thousands of people are struggling to make ends meet every day.

That’s why a new program in Lackawanna County is aimed at teaching new career skills to those experiencing poverty.

Working in the medical field wasn’t something Nicole Sekelsky always had in mind, she says she was looking for a career, not a job.

“I needed to provide a more substantial future for my children, ” says Nicole Sekelsky a medical assistant at Rise Graduate.

That’s what led her to NEPA rise at Johnson College, a program that helps those facing poverty access to learning new skills and work toward sustainable-paying careers.

“Knowing that I can help somebody that needs it, that is in the position that I was in two years ago, is absolutely amazing,” Sekelsky continued.

The program is nearly two years old.

“It not only helps the students, but it also helps area employers who are so desperate for individuals to come to work with the skills that we provide here,” said Dr. Katie Leonard the president and CEO at Johnson College.

In addition to its medical assistant track, it provides five others like the computer support and security specialist.

Nick Snyder one of Nepa Rise’s newest students says he hesitated to join at first.

“So I’m thinking, ‘will this be like high school where I’m going to get judged by everybody and I’m going to have a hard time in class and all that?’” Snyder said

Taking a leap of faith, he’s now two weeks in and receiving the support in his career goal.

It’s goals like his that program organizers say are hard to make if they’re struggling to meet the basic needs of life.

“When we say that the support is there, it is there. We really want to see these individuals succeed and meet those goals that they have for themselves and their families,” says Terilynn Brechtel the director of community education at the United Neighborhood Centers

Any resident in Lackawanna or Luzerne County who lives 250 percent below the federal poverty level is eligible for the 9-month program.

“We really try to lift everyone up and recognize that we all are the leaders of our own path and we can do things the way we all want to do, it could be different, but there’s ways to support everyone no matter the difference,” said Liz Finley, NEPA rise program director, and William G. Mcgowan Charitable Fund.

Hoping to empower future generations to reach their greatest potential.

“It’s actually one of the luckiest things ever because I’m going to go into a career that I love and not only that, I feel like I can make this career a lifetime one,” adds Snyder.

Nepa Rise is accepting applications for its next cohort next fall.

Head to Rise NEPA’s website for more information.

Sydney Kostus live at 6:30 a.m.