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Ellen Wilt Massuros

Ellen Wilt Massuros gained skills she never knew she had – and ended a two-year streak of unemployment – thanks to a biomanufacturing program from Community Education and Workforce Development.

Massuros was one of six to graduate from a Bio Science Manufacturing program hosted by CEWD, Columbus State's noncredit training and workforce development arm. She landed a job almost immediately with Boehringer Ingelheim Roxanne Inc., a pharmaceutical manufacturer on the West Side.

Now, she's responsible for quality assurance, overseeing a machine that packages 200 tablets a minute. She's making medicine that helps people with cancer and other severe disorders. And her salary's back where it was in sales (but with no more cold-calling).

It's a big switch from her former career, Massuros says. She'd never thought math and machines were for her, but the program showed her otherwise.

"It was so satisfying and fulfilling. It's instant results," Massuros says. "You know that what you're doing is helping people who are deeply, deeply ill."

The Bio Science Manufacturing program is an intense 3-quarter program of chemistry, biology, manufacturing processes and math. Professor Larry Miller came to the program after 30 years of industry experience and relates all of the lessons to on-the-job challenges. Students get hands-on training using the same kinds of machines that Massuros works on now. The program also includes several field trips so that the students get an up-close view of the environment where they will soon be working.

Despite the recession, there are still several industries that can't find qualified workers. CEWD is running programs to fill workforce gaps in several sectors. The Bio Science Manufacturing program was funded by a federal stimulus grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, and it's aimed at dislocated workers, the unemployed and veterans.

And more than anything, Massuros is happy to be back on the job.

"You don't know if you're ever going to be employed again. You start dipping into your savings, then dipping into your retirement. It's devastating," she says. "I feel really fortunate to be working at Roxane Laboratories, and I couldn't do it without the training I got at (CEWD)."