Forty-two students graduated from the 2021-22 Career Tech Academy (CTA) in a Tuesday morning completion ceremony at The Prizery.
“Today is about celebrating you,” one of the guest speakers, Dr. Julie Brown, director of advanced learning for the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, told the students. “You are our emerging talent, emerging workforce.”
She complimented the students on their ability to step up and stand out, by choosing to enroll in the CTA rather than continuing down the traditional path in high school, and doing the work to complete the program.
“You showed up. Eighty percent of success is really about showing up,” Brown said. “Keep stepping out of your comfort zone and tremendous things are going to come your way.”
The Southern Virginia Higher Education Center has been providing “terrific career opportunities” for students in Halifax, Charlotte and Mecklenburg counties through the CTA since 2018, SVHEC president Dr. Betty Adams shared with the crowd at the completion ceremony. Students in the CTA earn dual-enrollment high school and college credits as well as career-recognized industry credentials, Adams explained.
Since 2019, Adams said students in the CTA also have had the opportunity to enroll in a second-year experience: a paid internship in their career field.
Graduates in automation & robotics, information technology: cybersecurity, energy systems technology, welding and work-based learning were recognized in the completion ceremony.
Dr. Chad Patton, dean of career and occupational technologies for Southside Virginia Community College, urged the students at the completion ceremony to take advantage of the “head start” they had been given in their career.
“Each of you have been given a gift…You’ve been given a network of employers that are rooting you on,” Patton said. “My challenge to you is to work hard.”
Cheryl Terry, dean of workforce services at Danville Community College, also encouraged the students to continue working hard just as they worked hard during their time in the CTA.
“You already have a head start, but you got there through your hard work and dedication,” Terry said. “Getting up early, coming over here to take your classes, while other students, maybe some of your friends, were not working as hard. That work ethic that you have displayed so far will carry you far in life.”
Terry added, “We are all very proud of you. We want you to come back and serve your community and we will always be here to support you.”
Noah Hudson and Christian Lawson, welding students in the work-based learning program, both testified about their experiences. Hudson, a student at Bluestone High School, said he had worked hard as an intern welder at AJ Transport and the experience had taught him a lot.
Hudson has received a job offer from AJ Transport and will start his new job with the company after graduating from high school.
Lawson, a student at Halifax County High School, said he chose to enroll in the second-year work-based learning after completing the welding CTA program, adding the program made him feel like he “belonged somewhere.” Lawson has received a job offer from A&T Customs, the company where he worked as an intern, and has accepted the offer.
Lawson and Hudson are among 15 CTA graduates who have received and accepted full-time job offers.
Jonathan Hammock, a welding graduate, called the program a “great experience” and shared his excitement about the future after earning a career studies certificate in Tuesday’s completion ceremony. Hammock’s future plans are to apply to work as a welder at Hitachi Energy. He said his dad and brother are welders, and that inspired him to give that career field a try.
Hammock’s mother Heather Puryear said she was “very excited” to see her firstborn son graduate from the CTA welding program.
“He graduated from college before high school,” Puryear pointed out. Hammock will graduate from Halifax County High School on June 11.
The memory and hard work of a former CTA student, the late Jordan Ross, also was honored on Tuesday.
CTA administrator Stephanie Robinson presented an honorary certificate of participation in memory of Ross, a student in the information technology program, to his parents, Ulisa and Larry Caddle. Ross, who was a senior at Halifax County High School, died in a car accident on Sept. 20, 2021.
“It was very special to honor him,” said Ulisa Caddle. “We thank Southside Virginia Community College for all their support in this year. Students and staff have been very supportive.”
A plaque will be placed in the CTA training lab in honor of Ross’ memory.
See the article from The Gazette-Virginian