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Students Amp Up Their Skills Through High-Voltage Service

Looking for ways to make the most of less in-person classroom time as a result of the pandemic, SkillsUSA North Carolina students used their skills to help wire up local homes.
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Photo courtesy of Catawba Valley Community College.

With the challenges in the classroom brought on by COVID-19, electrical systems technology students from Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) in Hickory, N.C., were forced to discover new in-person learning opportunities. These SkillsUSA students did just that, deciding to partner with Habitat for Humanity on a local residential home-wiring project to help families in the community.

Upon agreeing to project terms and protocols with Habitat for Humanity, 16 students — along with instructor Ramie Robinson — put their electrical knowledge and skills to the test. Prior to wiring the home on-site, they reviewed and practiced wiring in class. They also became well-versed on safety protocols related to construction and pandemic guidelines. At the job site, students demonstrated proficient electrical expertise in completing assigned duties while performing other tasks to support home completion.

Lowe’s store manager Terry Carr presents tool bags to CVCC. Photo courtesy of Catawba Valley Community College.

When local Lowe’s employee and CVCC student Robert Abernathy shared details of the project he was participating in with store manager Terry Carr (a former SkillsUSA member and CVCC graduate), Carr decided to donate 10 tool bags to ensure students had the right tools for the job. In addition, Lowe’s gave participating members $50 gift cards to purchase supplies for future projects. The support was a big boost to an already uplifting effort.

“Thanks to the generosity of Lowe’s, Terry and Robert, the cost of purchasing tools will not be an obstacle for students who are interested in training to become an electrician at CVCC,” says Tammy Muller, CVCC executive director of strategic business partnerships and SkillsUSA. “This is especially timely as many students are facing financial difficulties due to the pandemic.”

“I was laid off where I was working due to COVID, which gave me an opportunity to pursue the electrical program at CVCC,” student Tim Dellinger shares. “Being a hands-on learner going to the Habitat project meant a great deal to me. Also, being on a hybrid schedule due to COVID regulations meant we were only in person half the time as normal. The project provided us an opportunity to see the connection to what we were doing in the classroom to a real-world application.”

“Volunteering with Habitat for Humanity empowers both communities and students,” Muller adds. “The impact is both immediate and lasting. It also means stepping outside your own set of often all-consuming personal issues and refocusing on what is truly important in life: family, community, shared humanity.”

CVCC students are hopeful this project will be continued in the future.

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