HAMLET — “Great opportunities can start right here at home.” Those are the words of Rockingham resident John Phillips, who is enrolled in the Information Technology program at Richmond Community College.
This is Phillips’ second time attending RichmondCC. He completed his Associate in Arts in 2017.
“Like many people in our area, I have to work and provide for my family. RichmondCC has options for people like me who do not have the opportunity to go away to a large school,” Phillips said. “A quality education is no longer a faraway goal like it seemed to me years ago.”
Phillips will complete a certificate in IT Network Management from RichmondCC in the fall. However, in February he received an offer from Burlington Industries as a training coordinator. In this position, he is responsible for training documentation and facilitation of training for the many positions at the facility.
“I truly enjoy the work relationships I have with my team and the employees. I really enjoy helping new employees learn and become proficient at their positions,” he said.
Phillips has experience working in textiles. He was working for a company in Bennettsville, South Carolina, but he was laid off last year when the mill closed due to market conditions.
“Being unemployed after years of consistent working was not something I was used to. Sitting at home is not something I like to do for long,” Phillips said.
His wife, Christy, is a nurse who works full time, so he became a full-time parent at home.
“Although our kids are older, that has its own challenges,” Phillips said.
Another challenge was going back to college in the midst of a pandemic.
“I had no idea what my future may hold when I was first signing up for classes, but I knew that sitting at home would not get me anywhere,” he said.
He decided to enroll in the IT Network Management certificate program at RichmondCC because he had always had an interest in computers, and the curriculum could be completed in a short amount of time. Soon after starting classes, he applied through the Career & Transfer Center for a work-study opening in the College’s IT department. He got the position as a Help Desk associate. He assisted in taking phone calls and responding to requests for IT help, and he set up computers, replaced hardware, installed software, ran cable and a number of other duties that would arise during the day.
“John came to us with a great attitude of wanting to help people,” Chief Information Officer Lee Montrose said. “He is reliable and always goes above and beyond what is expected. We really appreciated that he would perform the tasks he was assigned, and if he saw that more needed to be done, John would always follow up to see what he should do about it.”
In addition to his work-study position, Phillips received financial aid to help pay for his classes and books because he was laid off from his mill job.
Coming back to RichmondCC was a natural choice for Phillips when his life suddenly changed in 2020. He knew more education was the only way he would be able to become a better provider for his family.
“RichmondCC has so much to offer anyone, even if a four-year degree is their end goal,” Phillips said. “It has helped me attain my goals, and I would most definitely recommend it to anyone. RichmondCC wants everyone to reach their potential and succeed.”
RichmondCC is now accepting new students for summer and fall semesters. Applications can be completed for free online at www.richmondcc.edu/admissions or by visiting Student Services at the Hamlet Campus or the Scotland County Campus. Call 910-410-1700 for more information.