27 graduate from construction internship program

KRISTEN HART/HICKORY DAILY RECORD: Twenty-seven students graduated from the "Ride and Decide" summer internship program at CVCC. Pictured: Nevin Bolick, Leslie Chang, Alexis Chavez-Villegas, David Cruz, Dayton Deal, Isaac Dillow, Isiah Fleming, Jorge Garcia-Eslava, David Gemes, Kyle Harper, Alijah Hyland, Matthew Jennings, Jaime Lemus, Hannah McNeely, Jeremy Slaughter, Christopher Southers, Deacan Teague, Anthony Teets, Salvador Vargas and Hayden Williams. Not pictured: Mayson Archer, Justin Dennik, Irving Hernandez-Lopez, Johnathan Puiu, Juan Reynoso, Brandon Sturgill and Jamie Wright.

Catawba Valley Community College hosted a ceremony on Monday for 27 high school students who completed the first “Ride and Decide” program, a summer internship that gives high school students a taste of construction work.

For seven weeks, students spent each Monday in class learning the fundamentals of the industry. The students worked Tuesday through Friday with industry partners and were paid $9 an hour, according to Keith Sipe, director of business and industry services at Catawba Valley Community College.

Jobs included carpentry, plumbing and electrical work, according to Sipe.

“Students list what their interests are whether they want to be a plumber, an electrician or a carpenter,” Sipe said. “We try to match them [with the business] the best we can.”

“Ride and Decide” also offers college credit, according to Sipe.

The program is completely free for all participants and classes are paid for by the Career and College Promise and ApprenticeshipNC, according to Sipe.

Leslie Chang, rising senior at Bunker Hill High School, worked for Habitat for Humanity while in the program. She said she learned carpentry and hopes to pursue that field as a career after high school.

“Since I was growing up I enjoyed crafting and when I heard about doing construction and the program I thought: ‘I want to try it,’” Chang said.

Only 30 spots were open in the program this summer, but Sipe said he hoped to have more spots available next summer by partnering with more businesses in Catawba County.

“Any construction company that has an office in Catawba County, we want to talk to them,” Sipe said.

Sipe said the idea for “Ride and Decide” started because business leaders in Catawba County reached out to Catawba Valley Community College looking for help in finding quality employees.

“That’s our whole goal is to identify future employees for our businesses in Catawba County,” Sipe said.

To be eligible for the program, students must have a GPA of 2.0 or higher, preparing to enter their junior or senior year or be at least 16, according to Sipe.

People interested in learning more about the program or find out details for the next summer program, can contact Sipe at bsipe498@cvcc.edu or call 828-327-7000 ext. 4613.

Business Partners

All County Plumbing, Catawba County Chamber of Commerce, Canella Heating and Air Conditioning, Century Fire Protection, David E. Looper and Company, Hickory Mechanical Inc., Habitat for Humanity of Catawba County, Hickory Home Builders Association, JK Landscaping and Grading, Lake Electric Company, Lowes Home Improvement, Matthews Construction, Neill Grading and Construction, Peoples Bank, Robinson Builders Mart, ServPro of Catawba County, Shurtape Technologies, T.M. Caldwell Plumbing and William C Reynolds Company.

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