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Harper reaches out to those laid off
By Kimberly Pohl | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 3/4/2009 12:06 AM

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Luanne Ruddy received plenty of training during her 23-year career at United Airlines. Still, she finds her resume falls a little short.

The Mount Prospect woman doesn't hold a nationally recognized certificate in program management and efforts to land a new job since being laid off in July 2008 have yielded several rounds of interviews - but no offer.

Last fall, within hours of Illinois workNet approving her bid to enroll in a program, Ruddy learned federal money had dried up.

Harper College has stepped in to help fill the funding gap until the new fiscal year starts in July. This week, the Palatine school announced it earmarked $150,000 to cover workNet vouchers administered through the Workforce Investment Act for a wide range of certificate programs.

Ruddy, who begins her accelerated two-week course in April, couldn't otherwise afford tuition, books and fees.

"You have to paint yourself in the most positive light," said Ruddy, also a member of three networking groups. "In a tough job market, I can show that I'm not just sitting here saying, 'Woe is me.'"

The scholarship program is open to residents of the Harper district who've been laid off or received notice of a layoff. Candidates are required to attend an information sessions by Friday, March 6, at the workNet Center, commonly referred to as the unemployment office, in at 723 W. Algonquin Road in Arlington Heights.

More than 40 people showed up the first two days, said Sally Griffith, assistant vice president for career programs at Harper.

"We're serving the population that needs it the most right now as the economy continues its downward slide," Griffith said.

Harper previously launched its Re/New You initiative to help unemployed workers in the Northwest suburbs reboot their careers. The college has free job fairs, financial workshops and career seminars lined up in upcoming weeks.

Nearby, Oakton Community College in Des Plaines waived tuition up to 12 credit hours in five in-demand career programs to residents who lost jobs in 2008. Nearly 80 people took advantage, including several pharmaceutical preparation students who didn't have to pay the hefty $2,100 fee.

While Oakton's programs are already in progress, Harper is still accepting students. For more information, go to or contact Diane Carter-Zubko at (847) 758-2372 or