Home Lifestyle Sisters building dream careers after graduating RichmondCC Substation Program

Sisters building dream careers after graduating RichmondCC Substation Program

Scotland County sisters Brooke Odom and Jessica Tarlton pose for a photo in their graduation caps, celebrating the completion of the EUSRT program at Richmond Community College. Photo by RichmondCC

HAMLET — Scotland County sisters Brooke Odom and Jessica Tarlton made a life-changing decision together in 2019. They decided to enroll in the Electric Utility Substation & Relay Technology program at Richmond Community College because they had seen the career success people were having who graduated from the two-year degree program.

“Like most of the students who heard of this program, money was the biggest motivator in this decision. But not only that, my dad is an electrician. I remember being a little girl and fascinated by how power worked,” Odom said. “He taught me how to wire my first receptacle when I was just 7 years old. From then on, I believe it was just my calling to be in the electric field.”

Budding Careers

Odom is an engineering technologist II with Duke Energy. In this position, she prepares plans, specifications and cost estimates for the construction and/or repair of overhead and underground electric power distribution systems. She also processes incoming requests for electric service. This means researching and determining electrical requirements for service to residential and commercial developments and coordinating electric utility construction with contractors, developers and other agencies to obtain easements and right-of-ways.

As for Tarlton, she is a field service technician for Schneider Electric. In this role, she performs low and medium voltage tests, as well as start-up and preventative maintenance testing, on electrical equipment such as transformers, circuit breakers, switch gear and relays.

“I learn something new every day,” Tarlton said. “This line of work provides a good challenge every time you step on a job site.”

Tarlton has been with Schneider Electric since graduating from RichmondCC’s EUSRT program in 2021. She had multiple out-of-state job offers before graduating, but she liked that she could remain local by working for Schneider.

Odom also received multiple job offers before graduating from the program in 2021, thanks to the Power the World Career fair which brings in utility companies from all over the country to meet with EUSRT students. She could have moved to Texas, Utah or Kansas for work, but she accepted an offer with Potomac Testing and settled in Sterling, Va. However, after only six months on the job, she was contacted by a recruiter from Duke Energy about a position in Aberdeen. She accepted and moved back home to be close to her family.

The Support of Family

Family is important to these sisters. In fact, the two leaned on each other to get through the program, holding study sessions between classes and afterward.

“Brooke and I were like a team. We supported each other through every class and even took most of the same classes at the same time,” said Tarlton, who is two years younger than Odom.
Tarlton said her sister was her biggest influence and inspiration during those tough two years in the program.

“Seeing her as a single mom juggling work, school and parenthood showed me that if she could handle it, so could I,” Tarlton said. “With the dedication we both had, we made it through and are now living the life we always dreamed of.”

Both young ladies graduated from Scotland High School. Odom in 2012 and Tarlton in 2014. Both were working for insurance agencies and also waiting tables while going through the EUSRT program. Odom, who is a mother of three, was eventually released from the insurance job during COVID, but she continued waitressing at night and also got a Campus Job with RichmondCC.

Dedicated Instructors

While family supported both of them during this time, Odom and Tarlton also credited the instructors in the EUSRT program for their success.


“During my time at RCC, I met some amazing people. The teachers are phenomenal,” Odom said. “The staff was like family to me and a special shout-out to (EUSRT Program Coordinator) Brian Terry for all the hard work he put into this program.”

Tarlton also felt she found a second family at RichmondCC.

“The teachers were nothing less than amazing, and I owe my career to their hard work and dedication,” Tarlton said.

Dreams Can Be Accomplished

Odom and Tarlton have considered furthering their education in electrical engineering through transfer agreements RichmondCC has with partnering four-year universities, but for now, both are focusing on the careers they have at hand.

“I believe this line of work was meant for me. During my first semester of the program, it just clicked. It was the missing puzzle piece in my life that I had been searching for,” Odom said. “It was well worth the sleepless nights and the hard work it took to accomplish my dream. I am here to tell anyone that you can do it, but you have got to be determined.”

Get Started This Spring

More spring classes are starting Feb. 10 and March 10 at RichmondCC. Visit the Hamlet or Scotland County Campus to meet with a career and college advisor, or call 910-410-1700. Apply online for free at www.richmondcc.edu/admissions.

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