LaunchPoint: Your Past Doesn’t Equal Your Future

Follow one manufacturing professional’s journey from Puerto Rico to New York.


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“LaunchPoint” is a new series from the Edge Factor Show coming in May 2014. It will air on TV on Cox7 Arizona. The show’s creators offer this synopsis of one of the episodes:

Growing up in Puerto Rico and moving to New York as a teenager, Noel Velez has never lived a life of privilege. Jeremy Bout, Edge Factor Producer and host of the LaunchPoint series, says 

“Noel Velez’s incredible LaunchPoint story will not only equip students with an educational and career pathway they can emulate, but it will also inspire people who are struggling to make a new life for themselves. Audiences will be challenged to discover their dreams and work hard to accomplish them.” 

Noel says, “I grew up in hardship. Nobody could help me but myself.” One night, everything changed. He recalls, “I chose to hang out with the wrong guy, at the wrong time, on the wrong day.” The result was Noel’s incarceration. After he was released, he found a new way forward. Without knowing what a job in CNC machining fully entailed, he applied to Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) as part of a specialized MassMEP program. The educators at WPI saw Noel’s passion to learn and succeed. WPI instructor Adam Sears says, “Early on, we could tell that Noel was very engaged with what we want to do.” He became known as a focused and dedicated student and “a leader in the class,” according to WPI’s Toby Bergstom.

“We’ve given Noel the opportunity for a fantastic future. Without a high school diploma, he was able to go through our program and obtain employment,” says Leslie Parady, MassMEP. Prior to his graduation, he was already lined up with a job at Siemens as a CNC machinist.

“Someday, I’m going to retire, and who is going to take my place?” says Jim Laliberte, Noel’s supervisor at Siemens. “We need people to keep learning, keep progressing, keep getting the skills that they need to take over the business [of manufacturing].”

Noel is now in the midst of completing his GED and on the road to becoming a homeowner. Meanwhile, he drives his luxury car and enjoys a career with benefits and promising future opportunities. “People doubted me—I want to prove them wrong. I feel like I’ve done something with my life,” he says.