Columbia man goes from prison to career in three months, wins award

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COLUMBIA - Teron Wings' road to success wasn't always the smoothest ride. In March 2017, he got out of prison and was determined to change his direction in life.

"I learned this that you can't have no success without struggle," Wings said. "Lot of people know I came out of prison, I was in a halfway house here in Columbia."

Within a couple of weeks of getting released, he ended up at Job Point after hearing about it through a friend. The organization helps prepare people in the mid-Missouri area to enter the workforce. 

"He was like it's got a heavy equipment program and I should try it," Wings said. "I've never been in a place like that where, I mean a place period where everybody was like friendly, I thought I was in some type of different time zone or area or whatever."
Wings' signed up for Job Point's heavy highway course with instructor Justin Gibson.
"I could tell he was kind of a shooting star in the beginning, like he wanted to learn. I could tell he grasped it pretty well. He was always eager to try the new things," Gibson said about Wings.
Gibson's class teaches students everything from how to operate trucks and cranes to working with asphalt and concrete.
"Justin tried to, you know, find something where we can actually visualize it and see what it was actually talking about in the book, instead of just reading it," Wings said.
Then, students put their work in the classroom to the test with an internship withe the city of Columbia's street division. The crew is in charge of asphalt and concrete repairs, snow removal and more.
Wings harnessed his skills and stood out at the same time, according to division supervisor Tim Sublett.
"His work habits, his personality, he's a giving person, too," Sublett said.
And he wasn't the only person to notice Wings, so did Chester Bross Construction.
"His big plus is that he is dependable, he put in the work and the effort, he learned the skills and he set himself up for success," Rod Harlan, the company's HR director, said.
In June 2017, three months after he left prison in his rearview mirror, Wings got a job as part of Chester Bross' milling crew.  
"He's been on Highway 70, Highway 44, he's been all over the state," Harlan said.
"I feel different because I've got this job," Wings said. "It was a great feeling with my background, I mean, what I've been through. That's the greatest thing that's ever happened to me."
Wings said he's glad to be on a straighter path and thankful Job Point helped pave the way.
"I always go by there, I tell them thank you, I mean, it's like when I stepped in there my whole life changed," Wings said. "Now I feel like I'm a part of something, I feel like I'm a part of America, you know, so that's what it means to me."
Wings was one of two Award of Excellence winners this year. Job Point gives out the awards at its annual banquet. The winners are chosen based on exemplary employment and overcoming personal obstacles.
To read about this year's other Award of Excellence winner, James White, click here.

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