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Apprenticeship Randolph welcomes 22 new students on annual Signing Day

An even larger group of apprentices signed Aug. 8 as a part of Apprenticeship Randolph's annual Singing Ceremony at RCC. It included the first-ever female apprentices and the first set of Automotive Systems Technology apprentices.
An even larger group of apprentices signed Aug. 8 as a part of Apprenticeship Randolph's annual Singing Ceremony at RCC. It included the first-ever female apprentices and the first set of Automotive Systems Technology apprentices.

Program signs first female students

ASHEBORO — With songs like ACDC’s “Thunderstruck” and Alicia Keys’ “Girl On Fire” booming from the speakers, 22 area students signed on as new apprentices during Apprenticeship Randolph’s 2019 Signing Ceremony held Aug. 8 in the R. Alton Cox Learning Resources Center auditorium at Randolph Community College.

This year’s class included three female students — a first for the program, which is in its third year. Sixteen students signed up in 2017 — the first year of the program, and 17 signed in 2018. With the addition of Automotive Systems Technology earlier this year, the number of new apprentices increased thanks to new partner, Thomas Tire & Automotive, signing on eight apprentices.

“Our student recruiting season was busy to say the least,” said Apprenticeship Randolph Co-Chairman and President of Jaeco Precision Jeff Callicutt, who gave the ceremony’s welcome and noted that nearly 2,000 students attended information sessions. “Since the beginning of this journey three years ago, we are certainly proud of what we have been able to accomplish and are thrilled about what is yet to come.

“This evening, we celebrate the best of the best — the [22] students who rose to the top and have been offered full apprenticeships valued at over $120,000 each.”

MAS Acme Vice President of Human Relations Susan Barbee, right, watches as Emma Fahy signs to be an apprentice with the company.
Apprenticeship Randolph Co-Chair and Director of Operations at Elastic Therapy Inc. Chris Harrington gave the opening remarks, focusing on the industries’ perspective.

“Why do most companies invest $150,000 to $200,000 per apprentice? They receive one-and-a-half to two times the return on their investment,” he said. “Why does the community along with the state and federal government invest in apprenticeship? There is $23 return on investment for every local tax dollar invested and $27 return on investment for every federal tax dollar invested. The community, the education systems, the businesses, the apprentices — we are all interdependent.”

Two pre-apprentices — Abby Goss and Chance Summey — then spoke, both wearing red and white Apprenticeship Randolph collared shirts like their fellow signees.

Apprentices Jonathan Ascencio, seated left, and Caleb Baudoin sign on to be apprentices with Hubbell Industrial Controls as Director of Operations, Industrial Division, Diane James (back left), Quality Engineer Jeannette Mixon (back center), and Human Resources Business Partner Ramonica Emerson look on.
“Sending children to college is one of the most complicated things, but it’s a parent’s dream,” said Goss, a Trinity High School student who signed with Phoenix Precision Machining. “But, is it going to provide you with a job later in life? It leaves you wondering what’s going to happen. One day, I was scrolling through social media — my parents always told me you don’t get good things from social media, but I saw Apprenticeship Randolph. I wanted to find out if this was something for me.

“The companies are amazing. They care about the children and the parents. They are looking at you, but they cheer you on — they don’t want to see you struggle. When I got my first paycheck, I felt like a child on Christmas morning. My parents got to see their child go to college and not worry about where she is every night. They won’t have to worry about me getting a job after college. ... We are going to make Randolph County stronger.”

Summey, a Wheatmore High School student who signed with Thomas Tire & Automotive, echoed Goss’ sentiments.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do after high school — I knew I didn’t want to go to a four-year college,” he said. “I knew I wanted to do something hands-on. I went to the open house and they said they wanted me to come back for orientation. I guess I did something right. Orientation was scary. I did my best to impress — I even wore fancy clothes. After what felt like forever, they said they wanted me.

“I’ve learned so much. I was shocked to see how much money I got in my first paycheck. I’ve met new people from different schools with the same interests as I have. I know I don’t have to worry about not having money to provide for my family. It’s so worth it for people who love to work.”

After being introduced by pre-apprentice Caleb Baudoin, a Trinity High School student who signed with Hubbell Industrial Controls, the company’s Director of Operations Diane James gave the keynote address.

“I’m sure this was a difficult decision to make,” she said to the pre-apprentices. “After all, you’re committing four years of your life, which is over 20 percent of how long you’ve lived so far. That probably sounds like a long time to you, but I can assure you it will go fast, and each year will go by even faster than the last.

“I actually envy you having made this decision. When I was making decisions during high school, the only viable option was college. When I transferred to Syracuse University, I started taking on student loans. I found out later that my parents refinanced their house to help pay for my college. ... All of you new apprentices will have it better than I did — all while you’re still learning. At the end of four years, you’ll have an associate degree, a journeyworker’s certificate that is recognized in all 50 states, no debt, and money in your pocket from earnings.”

ApprenticeshipNC Consultant for N.C. Community Colleges Wanda Ramos-McPherson emceed the signing ceremony, during which each company announced who they were signing and joined their new apprentices at a table on stage to sign the paperwork. While upbeat songs played, the apprentices signed, donned their company caps, and shook the hands of (or hugged) their new bosses.

Keshon Coleman, an apprentice with Post Consumer Brands, gave the closing remarks.

“Being a part of this program has been a great experience,” he said. “While you’re in this program, you will have a chance to form new connections and new friendships with your classmates. Being a part of this program also has helped me develop many different skills on and off the job such as communication skills and humility. Being an apprentice is not going to be easy at times with the long hours between class and school, but remember the long-term benefits. Don’t just focus on the amount you’re getting per hour right now. This is all a part of growing up and facing your challenges and overcoming them. The most important part of being a successful apprentice is to never stop learning.”

RCC Vice President for Instructional Services Suzanne Rohrbaugh closed the ceremony.

“I’m biased, but I’ll admit it — I think we’re the best thing going,” she said. “I think we’re the best apprenticeship program. I think we’re the model for so many other programs. ... It truly has taken a village for this.”

Apprenticeship Randolph began in June 2016 as a collaboration among Randolph Community College, the Randolph County School System, Asheboro City Schools, the Asheboro/Randolph Chamber of Commerce, and local manufacturers. The goal was to bridge both the interest and skill gaps in modern manufacturing and provide a vehicle for expanding the workforce pool for advance manufacturing in the county. With tuition funded through Career and College Promise and the N.C. Youth Apprenticeship Tuition Waiver Program and books paid for by the school systems and the participating companies, Apprenticeship Randolph produces and educated, skilled, debt-free workforce.

The program, which is for high school juniors and seniors, begins with a six-week, pre-apprenticeship summer program that consists of two RCC classes and 40 hours per week of on-the-job training. Once a business selects its apprentice after this trial period, the program is spread over four years with students receiving paid, on-the-job training while earning an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Manufacturing Technology or in Automotive Systems Technology through RCC and a Journeyworker Certificate from the N.C. Community College System and U.S. Department of Labor.

For more information, contact RCC Pathways Activities Coordinator Stacey Miller at 336-318-4958 or email

This year’s apprentices (with high school and class year) and industry partners are as follows:
  • Allen Machine & Fabrication — Braxton Newlin (Southwestern Randolph High School 2019)
  • Elastic Therapy, Inc. — William Flores (Randleman High School 2020), Gilberto Salinas (Southwestern Randolph 2020), Chandler Sellers (Southwestern Randolph High School 2020
  • Energizer — Devin Owens (Randleman High School 2020)
  • Hubbell Industrial Controls — Jonathan Ascencio (Asheboro High School 2019), Caleb Baudoin (Trinity High School 2019)
  • MAS Acme — Emma Fahy (Providence Grove High School 2019)
  • Mohawk Industries — Brandon Dycus (Randleman High School 2020)
  • PEMMCO Manufacturing Inc. — Jeremiah Parker (Asheboro High School 2019)
  • Phoenix Precision Machining — Abigail Goss (Trinity High School 2019)
  • Post Consumer Brands — Mario Salinas (Southwestern Randolph High School 2019)
  • Technimark — Noah Hutchens (Asheboro High School 2019), Nicole Miller (Trinity High School 2020)
  • Thomas Tire & Automotive — Xavier Foust (Providence Grove High School 2020), Diego Garnica Salinas (Asheboro High School 2020), Timothy McDonald (Trinity High School 2020), Alexander Moreno Aristeo (Asheboro High School 2020), Trever Phillips (Eastern Randolph High School 2019), Zachary Stinnett (Randleman High School 2020), Chance Summey (Wheatmore High School 2019)
  • United Brass Works — David Lackey (Wheatmore High School 2020)
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