“Telling the Stories of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community”

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“Telling the Stories of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community”

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December 5, 2022

Graduates Seek Opportunity for Success in Workforce 


Five Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community members received their certificates of completion from the Refrigeration School Inc. (RSI) Apartment Maintenance Pathway (AMP) Program on November 10. These graduates now embark on a career field that provides endless opportunities in the state of Arizona.

The AMP program teaches the maintenance and repair of interiors and exteriors, electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning, and appliances in apartment complexes. According to the National Apartment Association, the demand for jobs to provide grounds and property maintenance is expected to grow by 13% in Arizona, making the Apartment Maintenance Pathway program a key initiative for new careers in the skilled trades.

The graduates were part of a special cohort of students between RSI and the SRPMIC to grant Community members the opportunity to receive their certification to work in residential refrigeration. 

“It has been an absolute honor to be here with you today celebrating our third Apartment Maintenance Pathway workforce graduation. We started this program in 2019 and it has been a long road to get to this point. We are excited for you today,” said Sarah Fluke, deputy director of the Arizona Multihousing Association. 

She thanked the program’s partners from the National Apartment Association, Chicanos Por La Casa, the City of Phoenix workforce team and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. “They sent five students and they were really excited that they saw the value in this program. From that, we are hoping to continue this partnership,” said Fluke. 

Graduate Jacob Juan said that he was thankful for the opportunity to be part of the program and that his experience was great because he learned so much.

“I learned a lot, and I want to thank everyone for the opportunity because it allows us to help others, and it really means a lot to me,” said Juan. 

“I feel very blessed and honored to be here right now,” said SRPMIC member graduate Jesus Salazar. “Last year, things were going in a different direction in my life, and then I started to make a change. I saw the door and went through it. I’d like to thank everyone who put this program together. I want to thank our Community for getting in contact and making this opportunity for us,” he said. He added that it was beneficial because he has gained valuable knowledge in his field of study. 

“This is a very special occasion, of course, for our graduates,” said Jenny Pacheco, senior director of agency relations for StrataTech Education Group, the parent company of RSI. “It took us a long time to get this program up and running, but when we did, we’ve had tons of success with it.” 

She said this is the third class that the school has graduated under the Apartment Maintenance Pathway program. To the graduates, Pacheco said, “We can only envision the many opportunities that you will have as graduates. We wish you the best of luck, and you will always have a family and home with RSI.” 

“One of the things that I am very excited [about] is to see the opportunities and see people take advantage of it,” said David Baker, RSI campus president, also addressing the program’s graduates. “[You] guys took action, and that is the thing that I love to see, because you are at this point and place to see your horizons broaden.” 

He encouraged the group of graduates to use their newly acquired skills to take advantage of the opportunities in the workforce. “You have learned so much from your training, and it will be great to see the many things you all will do from this point on,” said Baker. 

Fred Lockhart, executive director of the Arizona Private School Association, was one of the invited speakers to congratulate the graduates. “We value your skill sets, but more importantly you have changed the course of your life and your family’s life forever,” said Lockhart. 

Lockhart said the graduates have chosen a path in the right direction, because their profession allows them to find positions of employment or in some cases be self-employed. “I hope that you seize the opportunities that are set before you. Find out more about what you can do with the deep knowledge you possess.”