HAMLET — Twenty-two students are now ready for a career in the power industry after graduating as the second class of Richmond Community College’s Electric Lineman program.
In addition to family and friends, representatives from several companies — including Mas Tech and Volt Power, were at the ceremony.
The idea for the program was developed last summer, with the first class starting in November, according to Dr. Robbie Taylor, vice president of Workforce and Economic Development.
Taylor said it was “a complete college effort.”
In less than three months, the students of the program changed their lives.
“We’ve all put a lot of heart, blood and sweat into this program, said program coordinator Scott Caulder. “These students endured all the elements of weather … they became a team and they are now ready to be a professional employee.”
There were 18 graduates in the program’s first class.
Caulder also presented an award to student Cody Stewart for being the fastest student in the pole-rescue challenge where they had to climb the pole and rescue a 150-pound dummy from the top and “rope it down” within five minutes.
John Burgess, another of the graduates, said the first lesson they learned when they walked in was: “You are your brother’s keeper.”
“It embodies two of the most important ideals in a lineman’s life: safety and support,” he said.
Burgess praised the instructors saying they treated the students like part of their team.
“They treated us like brothers, who kept us safe,” he said, “while teaching us to keep ourselves and future brothers safe, as well.”
Most of the students had no idea what to expect when they began the program, according to Burgess.
“Some of us had only seen advertisements on billboards … some of us were just out of high school … some of us already had jobs or careers … some of us didn’t have much of anything, but here we are,” he said. “Here today we’re acknowledging that we are ready to start our careers for the rest of our lives, with the knowledge and skills given to us.”
Other students graduating were:
- John Bryant
- Steven Cassotis
- Hunter Dawkins
- Thomas Deaver
- Sean Deese
- Joshua Franklin
- Samuel Freeman
- Kenton Graham
- Michael Lill
- Kalan Locklear
- Stephen Locklear
- Thorne Locklear
- William Macedo
- Nakeem McKenzie
- Horace Oxendine
- Nathan Quick
- Justin Robinson
- Lokendall Robinson
- Kelly Sanderson
- Carl White
State Sen. Tom McInnis, R-Richmond, was the guest speaker for the ceremony.
McInnis said what makes some work harder is “the vision for success and the vision for the future that each one of you young men will have in your life that you might not have ever had before.”
He later joked that there were three reasons he couldn’t do what what they have decided to make a career of: “I’m scared of heights, I’m scared of snakes and I’m scared of electricity.”
College President Dr. Dale McInnis, in his closing remarks, asked the senator to take the stories he heard back to Raleigh and tell his colleagues that “the best investment that the General Assembly can make is in the future and the careers of these folks and the employers who are needing their help — desperately.”