Col. Jason Clarke, Fort Irwin garrison commander, and Dr. Eva Bagg, superintendent-president of Barstow Community College, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) Jan. 13, at garrison headquarters on Fort Irwin, Calif.

“The MOU is to codify our partnership with Barstow Community College in order to build different academic programs that translate into work-related opportunities here at Fort Irwin,” Clarke said.

The MOU will help create a streamlined process for two Barstow Community College programs, child development education program and cosmetology, to onboard child youth assistants and barbers on Fort Irwin.

“I’m really hoping this pipeline creates that opportunity, so we can bring more child youth program assistants on board to then open up more slots for our kids in childcare,” Clarke said.

According to Clarke, the MOU provides an important opportunity for both the Fort Irwin and Barstow communities.

“People who live in Barstow may not understand opportunities here at Fort Irwin and there are people in the [Fort Irwin] community who may not understand how to get better education opportunities and what that really translates into the real world,” Clarke said. “This is an opportunity for our communities to unite together and build that opportunity to show real world application at the college level and the community level.”

Dr. Crystal Nasio, the executive dean of strategic partnerships and workforce development at Barstow Community College, said the strengthening of the partnership between Fort Irwin and Barstow Community College indicates Fort Irwin’s accessibility for employment to the Barstow community.

“It signals to the community that we want to provide the education and training needed and you can get that at Barstow Community College and because of this MOU, there is a streamlined way to get employment,” Nasio said.

According to Nasio, beginning with classes in February, cosmetology students will have the opportunity to participate in supervised mobile salon days at Fort Irwin and cut Soldiers’ hair when Soldiers are in their regeneration period, a recovery period after rotations.

Also beginning in February, alumni and students with 24 semester units of education either in child development or early childhood teaching, will be able to apply for jobs at Fort Irwin’s Child Youth Services, Nasio said.

Students who are active in the course for child development can participate in the course and be paid, Nasio said.

“They’ll be working through our system and registering for a class … so they’ll get credit with us, and they’ll get paid,” she said. “So, you’re taking a class, and you’re getting paid for it.”

Those interested in working for Child Youth Services still have to meet specific requirements, including passing a background check and Live Scan, which runs an applicant’s fingerprints through the Department of Justice.

“If they don’t pass any of that, they’re not going to get hired,” Nasio explained.

Nasio said the intent is to extend Barstow Community College’s offerings so students can get employment at Fort Irwin.

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“The first two [opportunities] are child development and cosmetology, but I think it’s going to be the first of many for us,” Nasio said.

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This piece is written by Kimberly Hackbarth from the National Training Center and Fort Irwin. Want to feature your story? Send your draft here today.