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CCC&TI Helps Lenoir Woman Find ‘Dream Job’

Published: 12/22/2022

By Tehan McMahon, Appalachian State University

What do massage therapy and welding have in common? For most people that question might be hard to answer but for one Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute alumna, they happen to both be stops along the way to her current success.

Meredith Wilson earned a degree in massage therapy at CCC&TI and worked for more than a decade in the field. When she was ready for a change, she did a complete 180 and returned to CCC&TI to enroll in the Welding Technologies Associate Degree program. The move was inspired by a meeting with Gary Hudson, CCC&TI’s Welding Technologies Program Director. With training in a high-demand field and what she describes as her “dream job,” Wilson now serves as an example to other adult learners who may be considering a career change or a return to the classroom.

“Meredith came into the welding program with the goal of making life better for herself,” Hudson said. “As a student she worked hard and put in the extra time when she struggled. Now that she has graduated she is passing on the things that she learned to others. Through hard work and dedication Meredith achieved her goal, and as a part of the welding program here at CCC&TI we couldn’t be happier to have helped her.”

While the decision to enroll in welding may have been years in the making, Wilson always knew that CCC&TI would be the key to a successful transition. “I believe we have some of the best programs and instructors in the state,” Wilson said of CCC&TI, adding that her education seemed more comprehensive than what her peers had experienced elsewhere.

In her quest for a hands-on education that would provide her with a range of career opportunities, Wilson also enrolled in CCC&TI’s IMPACT program.

The IMPACT Institute provides the skills and certifications needed for an entry-level advanced manufacturing job, while making students eligible for scholarships to continue their education in one of several advanced manufacturing programs. It is free to students and was established to increase the number of qualified manufacturing workers in the area.

For Wilson, it was an opportunity to take her skills and employability further, but more importantly provided help paying for her education and provided certifications that would boost her resume and making professional connections.

Among those connections were Rick Shew, the Associate Dean of Business and Career Services at CCC&TI, and Tim Wallace, Instructor in Workforce Development, who encouraged Wilson to apply for a job at FleetGenius, a sustainable waste container company in Lenoir.

Wilson now works as the Talent Acquisition Liaison at FleetGenius, where she networks with local community colleges and high schools about the company’s apprenticeship program, using her own experience to help guide students to success in their chosen fields.

“As someone who worked full time while completing my degree, I understand the fantastic opportunity our apprenticeship program presents to students,” Wilson said. “Apprentices are offered flexible schedules, the ability to receive on-the-job training while being paid, and bonuses.”

When she isn’t promoting the apprenticeship program at FleetGenius, she’s assisting new hires in their safety training and ensuring they follow company expectations.

Wilson says what she loves most about her job is connecting with people “who are looking to make positive changes in their lives … I love being able to work with people and illuminate a path for them to achieve their goals.”

Her hope is to continue to grow with FleetGenius and spread awareness of the benefits the company offers. And Meredith will continue giving back to IMPACT and CCC&TI as well by encouraging others to further their education and pursue careers in advanced manufacturing.

Wilson’s advice for anyone who isn’t sure about attending college or returning as an adult is to just do it. Taking even a few classes each semester will open doors to endless possibilities, she said.

Pharrell Boyogueno

Meredith Wilson

Meredith Wilson welding

Meredith Wilson welding