Southeastern Community College kicked off the ninth annual National Apprenticeship Week with a signing event Monday morning in the auditorium, where eight students were recognized and made official federally recognized apprentices. Under the helm of ACCESS or Apprenticeships Cultivate Careers and Earn Success at Southeastern, SCC’s partnership with Whiteville City Schools and Columbus County Schools brought about the pre-Apprenticeship program that created a pathway for high school students who are 16 years old or older.  

“You’re giving students the opportunity to get a job in their chosen field and use that apprenticeship certificate to guarantee them a job in the future,” said Dr. Chris English, SCC President. “So, National Apprenticeship Week celebrates and recognizes those apprentices who are successful and those who are moving along in the process.” 

Dalton Thompson, Mariah Martinez, Tangela McKinnon, Mary Parks, Alejandrea Tafolla, Jessica Wade, Mikyla Evans and Jennifer McKeithan were recognized as apprentices. Thompson signed his apprenticeship agreement with Fairfax Heating and Cooling. Martinez, McKinnon, Parks, Tafolla and Wade signed their apprenticeship agreement with Bri’s Caring Heart Child Care. Evans and McKeithan signed their apprenticeship agreement with Precious Minds Learn and Play. All apprentices are already working where they signed.  

“The synergy that can happen between people going to class and actually going to work in the program that they want to pursue a career in is extremely important,” said Dr. Sylvia Cox, SCC Executive Vice President. “It has the potential for the longevity of those employees to grow significantly.” 

WCS Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Williams said the partnership between the two school systems and SCC was made in response to hearing the needs from small business owners who need skilled workers. 

CCS Superintendent Dr. Deanne Meadows further explained that the partnership was forged to create the pre-apprentice program that allows high school students to work and earn course credit. She introduced Matt Gore, the newly hired apprenticeship director, who will connect high school students with pre-apprenticeships. Gore begins his new position on Nov. 27. 

“We are really excited for him to be joining this team and to be a part of this process to build new opportunities for our students and high schools,” Meadows said. 

Gore is a graduate of Whiteville High School, UNC Chapel Hill (bachelors) and UNC Pembroke (masters). He has worked as a teacher and coach for WCS and CCS. Gore is married and has two daughters. Gore visited South Columbus High School on Friday to speak to welding students about apprenticeships and resources available to them. 

Apprenticeship Coordinator Denise Young traveled to West Columbus High School, East Columbus Jr./Sr. High School, South Columbus High School and Thomas Academy this week to speak to high school students who are taking SCC classes. She explained the benefits of the apprenticeship program and how it helps high school students figure out their career path while earning money. 

See more photos from the signing event