About 800,000 Americans have passed through the Job Corps since it was created as part of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. The Department of Labor estimates that about 10,000 alumni live in the metropolitan area. .

One of them is Joayne Hamilton, 28, of Arlington.

Today Hamilton works as a word processor at the Rosslyn branch of Syscon Corp., which sells computer software, mainly to the U.S. government. She also is vice president of the Washington-area chapter of the Jobs Corps alumni association. Founded a few weeks ago, the chapter now has more than 100 local members.

But in 1968, when she lived in Fairfax Station, Hamilton said, she was in trouble.

"When I was 15," she recalled. "I had a baby. I came from a broken home. I wasn't getting along in school. I was on probation because my mother said I was corrupted and incorrigible. I was a brat, rebelling because my mother took my kid away from me."

At 16, Hamilton decided to enroll in the Job Corps. "I was determined to get into the Job Corps, get me a job, get me a place and get my kid back. And I did. It's been onward and upward ever since."

These days, Job Corps members are assigned to centers in their own part of the country, but in the 1960s enrollees were shipped all over the country. Hamilton was sent to a camp in Excelsior Springs, Mo., about 25 miles northeast of Kansas City.

It was the first time Hamilton had been away from home.

"It was strange," she said, "riding that bus halfway across the country. I was scared."

But she stayed, and after 14 months of training to be a cashier and typist, Hamilton returned home and went to work in the pet department of the Woolworth's in Seven Corners.

From there, she moved to the C&P Telephone Co., and then to a typing job at the Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery in the District. Later she moved to her present job at Syscon.

"If I hadn't joined (the Job Corps)" Hamilton says now, "I'd be like the people I see on welfare, going nowhere like my old friends, not doing anything."