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.
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 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.”