News & Updates

News & Updates

Training Class Opens up New Career Opportunity for Ex-Felon

After spending more than two decades behind bars, Larry Tripp wanted to make amends and find a steady career to provide for his family.

Yet that rough back story wasn’t easy to escape. Tripp, 39, remembers putting in 150 job applications and “not one person called me back.” It took the help of a family member and his own determination to land a few jobs. 

But again, he wound up unemployed and worried that no one would give him another chance. Then his parole officer showed him a flyer for Kern County’s MC3 Apprenticeship Readiness Class, and the future began to improve.

With help from David Hudgins, the program’s training coordinator and recruiter, Tripp worked through steps to qualify for the six-week class. In February, he and 16 others graduated from the first Kern County program offered under ValleyBuild, a 14-county partnership that trains men and women  for good-paying careers in the construction industry.

Today, Tripp is with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 428 and happy for the chance to repay society as a solid, hard-working citizen.

“I want to do something good for once in my life,” he said. “I want to learn a set of skills that no one can take from me.”

Tripp, who grew up in Weed Patch, talks freely about a criminal past that started at age 12. That’s when he was locked up for the first time – in juvenile hall — after punching another kid in the face.

He was smart in school but remembers being targeted and bullied. Family life was a roller coaster of ups and downs.

“I was an angry kid,” Tripp said. Life snowballed into a blur of fighting, drugs and an escalation of crime tied partly to a meth habit. He spent most of the 2000s in prison.

While locked up in 2016, Tripp found out that his grandfather had died and that his mother was sick with cancer. Cold reality motivated him to make a change.

“For all those years, my ideology was just so negative and so tarnished,” Tripp said. “I didn’t realize what was really important, which was my family.”

He prayed for his mother’s recovery and redirected energy into clean living and college classes — earning an associate’s degree. Tripp came out of prison in 2020 and his mother happily beat cancer.

Building a life, and career, on the outside proved a major challenge. Tripp even was hesitant about the apprenticeship readiness class, worrying that his many tattoos and criminal background would be a turn-off.

Instead, he was accepted and “no one looked down on me,” Tripp said. “These were all just people trying to get a job. Your past or your life – that’s on you. It’s about what you’re doing now.”

Today, Tripp is grateful for the people and training that helped put him on a better path. Already the father of two sons, he is expecting a third child with his fiancé, Korie Michael, whom he has known for nearly 20 years. They were supposed to marry 18 years ago.

She was by his side at graduation in February, where Tripp was introduced as one of the program’s success stories. He spoke honestly about his past and his gratitude for a program that gave him skills to build a future.

“No matter where you come from, no matter what you’ve done, there’s always an opportunity,” Tripp said. “I believe that