Spencer Etheridge

Wilson Community College Student Success through Cooperative Education Opportunity

uuUpon graduation from Hunt High School in 2012, Spencer Etheridge knew exactly what career he wanted to pursue and where to start. Wilson Community College’s (WCC) Welding Technology Program provided the perfect opportunity for the education and training needed to attain his goal.

He first discovered his love of welding during high school. Etheridge took classes in metal fabrication, including stick welding and metal inert gas (MIG) welding. He enjoyed having a ‘hands on’ skill and wanted to develop them further. When a friend told him about the Welding Technology Program at WCC, he knew that’s what he wanted to do. Etheridge said, “I could still work, live at home, save money, and finish school in a year. So that’s what I did”.

It was immediately obvious to Welding Instructor Keith Hobgood that Etheridge had a natural talent for welding. It was not long before he was top of his class. In addition to his welding skills, Etheridge demonstrated leadership skills, helping his classmates whenever he could. Hobgood said, “Spencer showed great dexterity. He is left handed which makes certain welding skills more difficult but this did not pose a problem for Spencer. He was a great student and always in a good mood.”hh

Wilson Community College has established partnerships with several local businesses to provide cooperative education opportunities (Co-Op) to its students. This year marks the fifth year Evans-MacTavish-Agricraft has partnered with the WCC. During the 2013 summer semester Etheridge began his Co-Op, working two days a week at Evans-MacTavish-Agricraft, while continuing to go to school, and working a part-time job. Determined and dedicated to his school and craft, Etheridge continued to make progress.

Erin Wilson, Supervisor at Evans-MacTavish-Agricraft, said, “Spencer is a disciplined young man. He comes to work wanting to do his job and takes a lot of pride in his work.” Although Evans-MacTavish-Agricraft was not actively looking to hire additional workers, they already knew that Etheridge would make an excellent employee. Mike Mitchell, Plant Superintendent, said, “Spencer created a position for himself through his hard work.”  When Etheridge graduated, he was offered a full-time, permanent position with Evans-MacTavish-Agricraft.

After one year of employment, Etheridge continues to make great strides in developing his welding skills. Mitchell said, “I am pleased with the training and education Etheridge gained at WCC. After one year of employment, Spencer rates as a third year welder.” Mitchell continued to say, “He is a combination welder, working in both TIG and MIG, making him more qualified, and eligible for advancement.”

Evans-MacTavish-Agricraft continues to be a great cooperative education partner, providing opportunities for Wilson Community College Welding Program students. This summer, two new students, Jonathan Tyndall and Josh McKeel will begin the welding Co-Op program, working alongside the welders of Evans-MacTavish-Agricraft.

Wilson Community College’s goal is to educate individuals, giving them the skills they need to be successful. To learn more about Co-Op partnerships with WCC, please contact Alan Leonard, at (252) 246-1303, or aleonard@wilsoncc.edu.

WCC offers the opportunity to earn a Diploma and Certificates in Welding Technology. For more information contact Keith Hobgood, at (252) 246-1334, or khobgood@wilsoncc.edu to learn how to get started in this program.

Left to Right: Erin Wilson, Spencer Etheridge, Mike Mitchell
Left to Right: Erin Wilson, Spencer Etheridge, Mike Mitchell