Tidewater Tech Blog

Tidewater Tech Grad Spotlight: Joseph Parker

Joseph Parker poses for a photo at the campus.

Joseph Parker poses for a photo at the campus.

Tidewater Tech grad Joseph Parker lived in Raleigh, North Carolina when he realized it was time to get serious about his future and make a change in his life, for the better. He had been thinking about welding but did not know where to start. Then, one day he received a call from Centura College about furthering his education in the medical field, but he was more interested in pursuing welding.

He was soon connected with Tidewater Tech and found that was where his future needed to go. He moved to the Hampton Roads area to attend Tidewater Tech’s combination welding program.

Joseph found inspiration in welding from his uncle, who was a welder. He saw the financial security that came from succeeding in the trade. As a father, he knew he needed to better himself in order to provide a more secure future for his children.

Overcoming Challenges

School did not come without its challenges though. “When I enrolled in school I was working full-time, was riding public transportation, and living in Newport News. I had to get up at 5 am to get to school by 8 am,” described Parker.  “Then, I got off [from school] at 2 pm just to get back on the bus to get to my job at 5 pm and work until midnight or 1 am usually. That was my routine Monday through Thursday.”

Midway through his program, more struggles came from his living situation. He found it hard to stay motivated with a tiring travel, school, and work schedule. With the added stress of not knowing where to live, Joseph almost gave up hope and quit the program to move back home to North Carolina.

However, his family in North Carolina encouraged him to stay positive, finish his program, and graduate. Eventually Parker was able to obtain stable housing. “Honestly, my biggest support system was (the) student services (at the campus), my girlfriend, and my immediate family,” Parker stated when asked what helped him get through the welding program.

Joseph Parker at graduation.

Joseph Parker (right) at graduation.

Joseph knew he needed to set a good example for his children and lead by example. “My son looks up to me more anything and I don’t want him to see me quitting. That’s not the model I want to set for him.”

Graduation finally arrived and you could see the unmistakable joy on Joseph’s face. He knew he has persevered through positivity. Armed with American Welding Society certifications, he had completed his program with pride.

Parker always came to campus with a smile on his face despite being tired or discouraged. He always made it a point to stop by and say hello to everyone he ran into each day. He quickly found that staying active and involved on campus helped promote the positivity he needed to maintain his momentum throughout the program. As a Tidewater Tech student ambassador, he was heavily involved in campus activities promoting school spirit and encouraged other students to stay positive no matter what.


Plans After Graduation

Life doesn’t end at graduation though. Joseph has plans for his future. He has since interviewed with several companies and most recently interviewed at Bay Metal where he hopes to fully begin his career. He plans to move up within the company to a Senior Welder position and eventually be able to purchase a home for him and his family to live life with a little more security.

Now an official Tidewater Tech grad, Mr. Parker left us with some encouraging words to pass on to future students. “You can make it. If I made it, you can make it. I know everyone comes from different backgrounds and life isn’t a walk in the park. If you feel like you’re going to give up, look past it, push through it. It’s just a storm.”

Tidewater Tech Graduate Spotlight – Tony Jones

Tidewater Tech grad Tony Jones holds up blueprints for house he plans to build.

Tidewater Tech grad Tony Jones holds up blueprints for the house he plans to build.

Tony Jones was born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia. Having prior construction experience in addition to attending courses at Tidewater Building Association, with a specialty in Auto CAD (Computer Aided Drafting), he desired to further his education and academic experience in the trades and construction field. With that, Jones enrolled here at Tidewater Tech. Growing up, Tony always desired to someday build houses and had a knack for hands-on learning and skills, leading him to the trades field.

Time at Tidewater Tech

Tony first enrolled at Tidewater Tech in the (BMR) Building Maintenance and Repair program in January of 2017, graduating later that year, in August, with a cumulative enrollment GPA of 4.00. Promptly following graduation of the BMR program, Tony then enrolled into the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) program to further his education in September 2017, graduating on June 10th of 2018 with an overall GPA of 3.43.

When asked his review of Tidewater Tech in regards to skills and knowledge he obtained throughout both the Building Maintenance and Repair and the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning programs, Jones stated that he believed he obtained necessary skills to feel confident in anything from interviewing, creating resumes and cover letters, to successfully having the knowledge to obtain employment in his field of interest.

“The instructors and staff whole-heartedly want you to succeed,” Jones commented when talking about his time at Tidewater Tech, after graduating from both programs.

Tony discussed overcoming obstacles throughout his academic journey. “There’s a lot to learn, you’re getting back into the classroom setting which takes time to adjust to, staying on track with homework, testing, memorizing all of the terms, it wasn’t easy. But I stayed consistent in both my classes and the program overall.”

In regards to support systems, Tony recognized his family and friends outside of school. “They were constantly encouraging me and checking in on me as far as how I was doing and where my grades stood.” Additionally Jones noted, “The whole administration, staff and instructors, all played major keys in both recognizing and supporting me”.

Tony provided encouraging advice to others who may feel overwhelmed or that they won’t make it through. “Be patient, believe in yourself, and know that you can accomplish your goals.”

What’s Next After Graduation?

Since graduating in June, Tony enrolled in Villanova University, with goals to obtain his certificate in Project Management in order to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and hours to get his PMP Certification.

Additionally, Tony is associated with Virginia Organizing, where he assists individuals who’ve been directly affected by anything from lack of health insurance, affordable housing, to the school to prison pipeline. Not only is Tony active in his local community, but he also is the Director of a youth mental health program, HYPE (Helping Young People Everywhere), where he utilizes his past experiences to educate and advise young people.

Jones has partnered with both Tidewater Tech and Centura College for multiple back-to-school supplies drives in working towards giving back to the local community.  When discussing Tony’s long term goals, he brought his blueprints of the first house he wishes to build and sell once he gets his developing company started. He discussed his prior education and how it has all played vital roles in all of the knowledge he’s obtained throughout his academic journey thus far.

Best wishes go out to you Tony.  Your family at Tidewater Tech knows you can do anything you put your mind to!

Tidewater Tech Graduate Spotlight: Kyle Horton

By Terrell Wiggins

Kyle Horton was born in Philadelphia, PA and moved to Virginia with his parents when he was four years old. His original plans after graduating high school were to go into the military, since he really wasn’t sure what he wanted to do, career-wise. His father asked him what his goal of joining the military was and Kyle, unsure of the answer, stated that it was really for the money.  Kyle’s father had been employed as a successful heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technician for a number of years, and it was at that point he introduced his son to the HVAC field.  Not long after this conversation, Kyle decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and go into a trade himself.  He then enrolled into the HVAC program at Tidewater Tech.

In review of his time at Tidewater Tech, Kyle says that everything was (nearly) perfect. The teachers were always on time. He loved the lab because it was so much like the real world environment that he would work in. The administrative staff were praised for how professional and understanding they were. It was because of the caring faculty and staff, and the welcoming environment of the camps, that he boldly stated that he never felt the urge to quit when things got challenging.

Horton learned how to balance school and life. He stated that it helped that he didn’t have a lot going on prior to enrolling into school. Kyle would leave the campus at around two o’clock in the afternoon and would have to be at work by five o’clock. That was his routine every day up until graduation. However, he did mention that there were times when classes would get challenging and he would need the extra help to for a difficult task. He stated that the teachers were very helpful and they were always there for him when he needed them.

His greatest motivation was knowing that his hard work would lead to a rewarding career for him in the end. He knew that he had to do something, whether military or a trade. So he chose the latter, and he’s very glad that he listened to his father. When asked what the best advice he could give to someone who is feeling that they can’t finish or won’t make it through the program, Horton made a very profound statement. “Others can’t want more for you than you want for yourself,” claimed Horton.

Kyle knew what he wanted and was not going to allow someone else to want it more for him than he did. He graduated from his HVAC program at Tidewater Tech in August of 2018 and is currently working in the field as a HVAC technician at Gregory’s Heating and Cooling.

Kyle attributes his love for HVAC directly to his father. He describes how his father was able to make a living and give his family such a great life because of his expertise in the HVAC field. He now is looking to duplicate that same lifestyle. Horton states that he would like to start his own HVAC business within the next five years.

The faculty and staff at Tidewater Tech wishes you the best of luck in your pursuits Kyle!

Tidewater Tech Graduate Spotlight – Wayne Sainio

Tidewater Tech Graduate Spotlight – Wayne Sainio

Wayne Sainio was born and raised in Maine. Out of high school, Wayne initially had an interest in being an architect and civil engineering. He joined the Coast Guard at the age of 28, serving for 31 years, and retired in August of 2013. “Well, forced retirement that is,” Wayne joked when talking about the time he served and when finally getting out of the service. Wayne has traveled all over, from Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Great Lakes, Washington, DC, the gulf Coast states at least six times, Florida three times, and all over New England. Being Active Duty, Wayne received orders to report to his new station in Virginia, On June 3rd of 2008, and has remained in the area ever since.

Wayne enrolled into Tidewater Tech’s HVAC program for the July 17, 2017 start date. When asked what brought him to Tidewater Tech after being in Virginia for so long, he replied that he had long been researching HVAC programs in the area. He expressed that he had been looking into trades programs that not only had positive reviews, but ones that were promising when it came to assisting graduates with obtaining employment in their field of certification.  Wayne replied, “Tidewater Tech seemed to be the most promising program for what I was interested in. I heard this was one of the better places to learn HVAC and actually get a job. The big seller for me was that it was 4 days a week while others were 5 or more”.

While talking about Wayne’s perspective on his program he stated, “The programs are great here. You have to be someone who can physically be here and who truly wants to learn the trades’ field. I wish younger kids would take this more seriously. Attendance is huge with these hands-on programs, they don’t realize it because they haven’t yet worked in the real world yet”. Wayne further stressed the importance of attendance and utilizing your resources, where there are so many not just of aid on campus, but in our local community.

Additionally, Wayne discussed working in various positions over the years, citing his time as a maintenance pipe fitter over in Dam Neck, Virginia Beach, where he would assist technicians and vice versa, and how he “wondered what in the world they were talking about when they used certain terms, or why they would need to do that” when listening to the other guys at work talk and try to train him.

“When I started the HVAC program everything really fell into place,” Sainio stated. “Things people had said and tried to previously explain to me over the years throughout various field related jobs, and had no idea what they were talking about, all started to make sense and I was able to better put things together…. HVAC is something that I had always been interested in learning and I really enjoyed the classes and it being hands-on instruction”.

Additionally, in anything that someone takes on, whether it’s a personal, employment, or academic obligation or journey, it’s imperative to have a solid support system in place. Wayne discussed what a vital role his wife played in supporting him to go back to school and learn what he’d always been interested in, for his personal enrichment.

“She (my wife) always encourages me to do whatever makes me happy, whatever it is, and that if I was interested in going back to school, then I should do it, and do my best”.

Wayne discussed how a support system can really affect your goals whether its initially pursuing them or completing them, and disclosed that in a previous relationship when he wanted to back to school he was continuously questioned, put down, and told he shouldn’t, as where now he is encouraged, motivated, and rewarded for taking on this academic journey. On June 10, 2018, after 10 dedicated months of classes, Wayne Sainio graduated from the Tidewater Tech HVAC program with a cumulative grade point average of 4.0.  During his time in the HVAC program, Wayne only missed two days of class due to “concert tickets I’d planned way in advance and couldn’t pass up on”.

Sainio isn’t done furthering his education, as he is currently enrolled in the BMR (Building Maintenance and Repair) program with intentions to become a home inspector and acquire his national certification. “I plan to go back up to Maine and bother everyone there for the first six months after getting certified, and then come back to Virginia to bother everyone down here,” Wayne jokingly stated when talking about his goals after completing the BMR program. “Long term, my goal, or my ultimate wish, would be to work side by side with my son who is a contractor living back home in Maine.”

When asked what’s happened since graduating from the HVAC program, Wayne stated, It feels good to have the knowledge to trouble shoot AC’s and just help people out, and not working directly under someone. Even helping others at work.” Sainio continued with a story of an instance of this.

“There was a time, not too long ago, where a customer question came up about a drain line, another individual who had worked in the field a long time shot down my response when I suggested the underlying cause, he was certain it was something else. Well, a week later that customer called back and let me know that I was right and they should’ve listened to me. So, it feels good to have the power of knowledge to help other people. It’s gone further than just personal enrichment”.

When asked what he was doing for work, Wayne stated he is working with L3 Technologies at the Norfolk Naval Yard as the Lead Production Supervisor. He discussed the 45+ years of experience he’s had working in related fields; anything from shipbuilding to working on houses, and how the HVAC program really put the pieces together to educate him about the things he’s been doing for years, which is why he intends to further into the BMR program at Tidewater Tech.

“I could get another job now if I applied, having the knowledge from my program to help in my interview, but right now I’m too afraid they’d say yes,” Sainio laughed as he discussed taking a break and completing the next program before seeking a job change. Wayne closed in discussing his feelings of accomplishment from completing the HVAC program and disclosed his excitement in taking on the BMR program. He made it clear that you have to be motivated to pursue your goals, and simply being there is always going to be half your battle.

Tidewater Tech Welding Student Shows Perseverance on Path to Graduation and Beyond

Gwendolynn Malone, Student Services Coordinator

When Lemuel Davis starting talking to his life coach about his future, he never imaged how bumpy the road was going to be. Finishing high school, Davis felt a little lost with his life. Like most young adults, Davis was not sure what to do with his future. After talking to his life coach further, she offered some tough-love advice. She said, “Lemuel, its either boots or books. You need to pick one, and start building your life”.

Heading those words, Davis started looking into different schools and trying to find the thing that fit him best. After talking to his aunt, who was a superintendent at BAE Systems Ship Repair, Inc. for welding, he thought about going into welding himself. He called Tidewater Tech and got some more information about the school. After coming and completing a tour of the campus, meeting the instructors, and talking with the Student Services department, Davis was completely sold.

He started coming to school and soon found out that he was a natural at welding. Lemuel would come to school extremely excited and eager to learn; however, his instructors did not meet him with the same excitement. They noticed that he was very good at welding, but they also noticed that he was the youngest person in the class. They started speaking to him about what it is like actually being in the field of welding, and how it can be a little stressful. Conversations in the field can be very tough to get through. The instructors started treating him the same way he would be treated if he was out in the welding field.

This left Davis feeling a little discouraged, but when he started to understand why his instructors were doing this, he greatly appreciated it. The instructors were forcing him to have a stronger backbone.  That way he could be more confident in his chosen profession.

As the weeks went past, he discovered that he was the best welder in his class. Unfortunately, this allowed him to grow a bit overconfident. He started thinking that he did not need to come to class, and complete his work. Obviously, this led to a downward spiral. His grades started to drop, his attendance fell, and he started to lose hope. He got to a point where he wanted to stop and drop out of the welding program. He felt drained and guilty for allowing his arrogance to block him. After an instructor, Mr. Sellers, started speaking life back into him, Davis started to feel better about coming to school. Mr. Sellers told him, “You’re not good at welding if you’re not a good student”. Something about that conversation struck with Lemuel and made him want to better himself.

So back to work he went. He started coming back to school and fully utilizing his resources on campus. He started to form a very strong relationship with Campus Executive Director Paula Massey, and Career Service Coordinator Damika Howard-Wayne. Those two staff members helped keep Davis on the right path. Any day that he missed, Howard-Wayne and Massey were texting, calling, and emailing him. The emotional support that the Tidewater Tech faculty and staff demonstrated is what got Lemuel through the rest of his time at the school. After weeks had gone by, Davis was doing very well again in school and he started to find a good balance between his confidence and humility. It was all smooth sailing until graduation, or so he thought.

In the midst of completing his welding training program, Davis got a call from BAE systems, offering him a position as a welder. He was over the moon with excitement, pride and happiness. However, with every high, there can be a very deep low. Soon after receiving the job offer, his mother and Davis ran into serious financial situations. Those situations led to a lot of uncomfortable changes in his life. Just as he started dealing with that, he found his brother dead. His brother was dealing with a lot of depressing thoughts and in the end, committed suicide.

Needless to say, this rocked Davis’s world to the core. He was finally on his mountain top, only to be thrown right back down in the trenches. Davis’s whole world was being turned upside down and inside out. He did not see a way out of his situation, and being honest, school was the very last thing on his mind. That did not stop Lemuel though. He started this walk and he was going to finish it.

Davis definitely leaned more on his family here at Tidewater Tech to help him get through these rough times, but in the end, it came down to his own perseverance. He did not allow adversity to stand in his way of his future. He was completely committed to seeing this all the way through. He came to school every day and allowed his education to be a way of escape from his reality. Davis understood that coming to school was going to be the best way to get him out of the situation that he was in, and he did just that.

Davis graduated in December 2017, with a career and a renewed confidence. He soon discovered that he wanted to start a foundation of his own. He wishes to help other families get through the tragic loss of suicide. He is naming it NFL—Never Feel Lonely. Even through life’s ups and downs, Davis pushed through and did not allow anything to stop him from achieving his dreams. He truly is an inspiration to us all.

Tidewater Tech Student Spotlight: From Foster Care to Graduate

by Damika Howard-Wayne

It’s no big secret that the life of a foster child can be filled with both physical and emotional struggle. About two-thirds never go to college and very few graduate. In a society where many young men and women live with their parents well into their 20s, foster children learn quickly that they are their own responsibility.

Damika Howard-Wayne (left) and Breeanna Miller (right).

Breeanna Miller, a recent graduate from Tidewater Tech’s Building Maintenance and Repair (BMR) program, came to terms with that fact that very quickly once enrolling here at Tidewater Tech. Her success story reflects parental stumbles, teenage resilience and the collective efforts of families, friends, foster parents and Tidewater Tech staff, all who helped her battle her demons, nurture her talents, and endure whatever hardships she had to face.

Spending parts of her adolescence squatting in broken homes, a part of America’s social services system, Breanna never imagined herself attending post-secondary schooling.  Not only did she complete the BMR program, but she graduated with honors, and held office as one of the campus’s student ambassadors.

During her time as student ambassador, Miller displayed an incredible sense of caring through a number of campus activities. In October 2017, Ms. Miller donated over 250 pairs of socks and gloves for children, women, and men to the Tidewater Tech campus.  Ms. Miller also took time out of her busy schedule to assist with feeding the community, volunteering at numerous community events hosted by Tidewater Tech. With the help of Ms. Miller, the BMR department won the campus’s winter food drive, donating over 100lbs of nonperishable items. Ms. Miller even began tutoring fellow students and assisted in a rideshare program for students who wanted to be in school but did not the means to make it to classes.

When asked why she decided to commit to take part in all of these extra-curricular activities, Breeanna stated, “It’s an extra boost. You have to get up and work harder and better, to make sure your life turns out good.” She has learned to discipline herself. “I’ve got great communication skills,” she said. “All of those extra activities certainly helped me learn how to multi-task.”

School served as a primary source of stability in her life. “I’ve always been focused, having my stuff together,” Miller said. However, feeling a sense of abandonment when she knew she was going to graduate and no one was going to be there, she started reaching out to her family and traveling to be with them. That caused her to begin to miss a number of days. This drove the campus to take action.  Breeanna received a call from Damika Howard-Wayne, Student Affairs at Tidewater Tech, who told her that the campus was there for her and ready to see her walk across the stage at graduation.

“I told Breeanna what I learned throughout my own personal life experiences,” Howard-Wayne said. “Don’t let your confidence lag. You make your life as strong and powerful and wonderful as you can.”

Breeanna took those words to heart, and when the day came for Tidewater Tech’s commencement ceremony, Ms. Miller received her diploma with pride.

“Society was wrong,” Breeanna stated, “I went to school, worked hard, and graduated with honors!”

Miller has now joined the AmeriCorps and continues her mission in helping others succeed, with no excuses.

Train “Hands-on,” Volunteer “Hands-on”: Serving Our Community During National Volunteer Week

The school groups of Aviation Institute of Maintenance, Centura Colleges and Tidewater Tech have reached out to their community and volunteered their time for a number of organizations.  The staff at these institutions have chosen to serve their communities by volunteering their time, talent and support to causes that are meaningful to their communities. Here are just a few examples where are campuses have provided inspiration and hope to their community.

Tidewater Tech Staff and Students Volunteer at Local Church to Serve Lunch to Community

Tidewater Tech staff and students volunteered locally with Norfolk’s Christian Fellowship Church on Tuesday, April 17th from 12-2pm during their lunchtime fellowship. Tidewater Tech volunteers worked together in providing lunch to serve the church, veterans, civilians, and homeless members of our local Norfolk community. Additionally, resources were also provided for those seeking help with housing or financial hardships. Christian Fellowship’s purpose is to provide an intimate environment of learning, fellowship, support, accountability and community outreach. Christian Fellowship educates and gives back to the community through seeking volunteers for, in addition to offering, education advancement, IT, kid’s kingdom, finance team and literacy, regular food service, building and grounds, marketing, office, and administrative support, music and singing, Christian education, transportation resources, nursing, and other special events. This being said, Tidewater tech was delighted to be able to offer lunch and resources, and to overall play role in aiding such a great organization. The experience of serving others, knowing the increasing amount of people facing hunger, left a truly powerful and uplifting impact for participants in seeing the appreciation of those served.

Centura Columbia Lends Helping Hands in Support of Flood Victims

On Friday, April 20, 2018, Centura College Columbia partnered with St. Bernard’s Place to assist a homeowner reclaim his residence after the devastating effects of flooding. St. Bernard’s Place is a national nonprofit organization focused on helping citizens of an affected area restore their lives after a natural disaster. Parts of South Carolina were hit hard in 2015 by Hurricane Joaquin, resulting in catastrophic flooding that left scores of citizens displaced. Many people are still rebuilding some two years later.

A team of ten from the Columbia campus, consisting of staff and students, arrived at the location and got an assessment of the resident’s needs. The cohort was broken into groups and assignments were given. Some helped strip paint from baseboards and door trim, others applied fresh paint to other parts of the home, while the remaining manned table saws and sanders to repair water damaged woodwork. The students represented our Building Maintenance and Repair (BMR), Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) and Medical Assisting programs.

In all, the team worked on site from 8:30 am-12 noon and assisted in the ongoing progress toward completing the restoration. The campus has pledged its support in future activities and looks forward to serving the Midlands community at large.

AIM Indianapolis Joins Forces with Local Elementary School to Provide Bikes to Children

The Indianapolis campus of Aviation Institute of Maintenance is on a mission.  The goal: to provide bikes to the children of a local elementary school.  See AIM Indianapolis’s plans in an excerpt from a letter drafted by its Campus Executive Director, Andy Duncan.

“I can still remember my first “big boy” bike.  No more training wheels for this guy.  This new bike looked like a motorcycle with big orange fenders, long black seat, silver frame (complete with motor cycle decal), and knobby tires.  I can remember the initial ride down the street into the ditch and abrupt stop when I hit the concrete wall at the end of ditch.  The memory is firmly planted in my head of this event from over forty years ago.  If you are like me you remember your first bike or first “big boy or girl” bike and it brings a smile to your face.  For lots of kids they will never know that felling.  It is simply beyond the reality of the life they live for their family to afford such a luxury. 

We at Aviation Institute of Maintenance want to do something about this.  The AIM Indianapolis campus is on a mission to help recreate the feeling I and so many others have of getting a new bike.   We have partnered with McClelland Elementary school to help this dream become a reality. 

McClelland Elementary school has over 1000 students and due to the socioeconomic condition of a large portion of the students all students qualify for free breakfast and lunch.  McClelland is home to a fairly significant homeless population of students as well.  We, AIM, found our place to help bring some smiles simply by providing bikes.  Now that the partnership has been set we have to get the word out as to what we are doing. 

We have reached out to our partners in Aviation, friends & family, and other businesses to help with donating gift cards toward this effort.  The students and faculty of AIM have graciously volunteered their time to assemble the bikes as they arrive.  McClelland is choosing the criteria for the students that will receive the bikes and on May 25th we will head over to the school bikes in hand for delivery day. 

As I write this 28 bikes and helmets have been ordered, 18 assembled, and ten more in route to us.  We still have a couple weeks to collect a few more and as of right now several others are promised to us.  We are looking forward to seeing the children when they receive their bikes.  I know what having a bike meant to me as a child and I know that events like this show the community what Aviation Institute of Maintenance is all about.  We train mechanics.  We help people have a better future in their new career and we give bikes to kids who need them.  That is who we are and that is what we do.  I like the sound of that.”

These are just a few shining examples of students and staff at AIM, Centura College, and Tidewater Tech personify the mission of our brands to truly connect communities and careers.

Other instances of our campuses doing their part to help out their communities include:

  • AIM Atlanta teaming up with Greater Gwinnett Wetlands and the Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources to clean up Bromolow Creek and surrounding wetlands.
  • AIM Irving collecting food for the North Texas Food Bank.
  • AIM Houston lending a helping hand and meeting with residents and business owners at annual Hobby Fest.
  • AIM Las Vegas partnering with Ronald McDonald Charity House and baking cookies for a family staying there.
  • AIM Mannasass welcoming the Manasass City Boys and Girls Club to their campus for a fun-filled day.
  • AIM Oakland holding a food drive for those in need in the community.
  • Centura Chesapeake holding a community yard and craft sale, with proceeding benefiting the Samaritan House.
  • Centura Norfolk medical assisting students providing wellness checks for members at the KROC center.

Be sure to check our blogs and follow us on Facebook for updates on these and more stories of community outreach.

Teach the Teacher: ‘At the Cross Roads’ Community Education Conference Recap

Written by Drew Schnaath, Jul DeGeus and Esperanza Poquiz

Faculty and staff from The Aviation Institute of Maintenance, Centura College, and Tidewater Tech met with colleagues and industry specialists to enrich themselves, their campuses, and become better community leaders and more effective educators. On March 14th, leadership and instructors converged in Falls Church, VA to attend the annual Education Conference.

Left to right: Vice President Joel English, Damon Cook, Vice President Mike Busjahn and Nate Wade.

“This year’s theme centered around the intersection of education and community, how our schools work together with their respective communities,” said Dr. Mary Urbanski. “We believe in cultivating our school families, the greater communities surrounding our schools, and our faculty.” These relationships foster collaboration, integrity, and innovation, which benefits students, employers and the communities involved:

Centura Columbia hosted a three part Rock that Interview series of events, leading up to their Career Fair. The sessions educated those who attended on the following subjects: Writing your cover letter, creating your resume, collecting references and building your portfolio.

AIM Atlanta, AIM Chesapeake and AIM Manassas ‘drifted’ from aviation maintenance to automotive, as each campus hosted a Car Show & Open House. Automotive enthusiast learned a thing or two touring the hangars, while Aviation Maintenance Technicians (AMTs) admired the maintenance and upgrades of the vehicles that cruised onto the campus.

In September, members of the Hampton Roads campus branches partook in the organization and volunteering of the Safe House Half Marathon and 5k. 100% of the proceeds of this race went towards building a “safe house”- a haven for orphans that are at risk of being sold into sex slavery.

Centura Norfolk partnered with the City of Norfolk’s Fire-Rescue Department to develop an academic preparation training program for new recruits of the Fire-Rescue Academy. This free of charge program aims to help refresh the basic knowledge a participant will need to be successful in the Fire-Rescue Academy, as well as provides additional tutoring to ensure each recruit has the tools they need to succeed.

Tidewater Tech connected with the community’s strong military presence by holding a car wash and yard sale to benefit the crew members of the USS Eisenhower. Chief Petty Officer selectees from the vessel worked alongside Tidewater Teach staff members to make sure that every car that came for a wash was in ship shape!

For Christmas, AIM Indianapolis decked the halls with charity organizations, Bearded Villains and Bad Apple Offroad, to collect gifts for Toys for Tots. The holiday event gave families the chance to come to the campus and enjoy food, music and fun, while raising donations for a great cause.

Conference attendees heard from several well-known speakers, including Dr. Michael E. Wooten from the Department of Education, Cindy Bridges Milford, Enterprise Digital Specialist at Cengage and Dale Dworak, a 25-year industry veteran in business technology solutions. Campus educators were also able to learn from text book publishers such as Cengage, McGraw Hill Education, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Pearson and F.A. Davis Company. Each speaker offered valuable insight into their experiences in education, business, leadership, management, and even the technology that powers these institutions and ideas.

In addition to the veritable wealth of information, our faculty had the chance to meet and network with colleagues from our other brands and campuses. Jon Cason explained “Our goal is to foster community, both inside and outside our organization. Collaboration is important for our schools as they continue to grow.”


Welding Fumes: Tips on Staying Safe

By Esperanza Poquiz

It is essential for welders to follow the proper safety precautions when it comes to handling dangerous welding fumes and gases. Here are a few tips on how to stay safe when you are fusion or pressure welding:

  • OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard requires your employer to provide information and proper training on the hazardous materials that are in your workspace. Understanding the dangers that come with the various materials you work with can help you determine which compounds are harmful when you are overexposed to them. Product labels inform you of safety precautions, warnings and any special procedures to follow. Always read the labels!


  • Position yourself so that you are not breathing in fumes by staying upwind. The greatest concentration of fumes are in the fume plume. Keep your head out of this space. Do not weld in small confined spaces that have little to no ventilation.


  • An adequate ventilation system located within the room reduces gas and fume buildup. Natural, mechanical or local ventilation partnered with fixed or moveable exhaust hoods aid in extracting pollution from your work space. To achieve maximum results, keep fume extractor guns and vacuum nozzles close to the plume source. If you feel that there is not enough ventilation, a NIOSH approved respirator may be needed.


  • Contact your physician to learn what symptoms come from overexposure to gases and discuss actions to take if you’re experiencing them. Long term exposure to fumes may result in health complications. Over exposure to gases leads to suffocation and become a serious asphyxiation hazard. (1)

The next time you decide to weld, whether at home or on the job, be sure to keep these tips in mind to ensure that you stay safe!


“Controlling Hazardous Fume and Gases during Welding.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration, March 2013.


Student Services: Helping You Through Your College Journey

By Esperanza Poquiz

Student assistance and services are an important resource to know about when attending college. The staff is there to help make sure all aspects of schooling are managed. There are different branches to address specific needs, and below you can find information on the departments that help maintain order on campus:

  • Librarian/ Learning Resource Center Assistant – Librarians and Learning Resource Center Assistants provide you with the proper tools, books and reference materials you need to help with your assignments and studying. This also can include tutoring services for when you are in need of extra support.


  • Bursar – The Bursar Department is responsible for some of the financial aspects of a school. They assist with billing, monitoring account balances and collecting balances due.


  • Veteran Services– Veterans Services helps veterans adjust in the transition from military life to civilian life. The department introduces veterans to benefits they have earned from their service to the country.


  • Registrar – This department keeps track of all your student records and class enrollments. They are your go-to person to help you find any files, such as attendance records, grades and transfer/transcript information.


  • Financial Aid – The Financial Aid Department provides you with information on what aid options you are eligible for. They can also offer suggestions for grant or scholarship opportunities.


  • Career Services – If you are about to graduate, or have already graduated, the Career Services Department can assist in the search for a job. They perform mock interviews, help write resumes and coach you on interview attire and demeanor. Career Services also can arrange opportunities for you to meet with employers face to face at the campus.


  • Student Services Coordinator – A Student Services Coordinator has established relationships in the community that you may use to your benefit. Through their connections, they can help you look for things like housing, transportation and daycare, all while you’re attending school. They are also in charge of the campus’s Office of Disability Services, so if you have questions about academic accommodations, you can speak with them.

This is just a glimpse of what college service departments can help you with. The next time you have a specific question, use this information to help guide you to the correct department!