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RCCC graduates first CDL class

AHOSKIE – It’s history in the making here today as seven students finished the first-ever CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) course taught at Roanoke Chowan Community College (RCCC).

Those students also all have jobs already waiting for them with long-distance trucking companies making a minimum starting salary of $35,000 annually.

Each person received a full need-based scholarship from a grant to take the course, which would have normally cost around $3,700 for the four-week class.

The students began the course February 12 at RCCC and are expected to complete it today (March 13), after which time they can apply for their Class A CDLs.

Officials from RCCC are pleased with the results of the first course and a new class is scheduled to begin April 15.

&uot;The (CDL) program here is doing really well; we’re very pleased,&uot; stated program coordinator Lewis &uot;L.C.&uot; Hoggard III.

Hoggard was hired in August of last year to arrange everything for the CDL classes to start.

He also arranged for students to have jobs waiting for them as soon as they finished their course of study.

A.J. Tyson, Senior Dean of Workforce and Student Development, has been working on the program since August 2006, when he began looking into acquiring the nearly quarter-million dollar grant needed for its inception.

&uot;We’re trying to make the course accessible and affordable in order to make a positive economic impact locally,&uot; Tyson told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald.

He continued, &uot;For students to go from zero income to at making at least $35,000 within four to six weeks will definitely do that.&uot;

The $222,125 grant, enabling a person at up to 200 percent of the poverty level to take the course for free, was awarded to the college by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Anyone 21 years of age or older is eligible to apply for a scholarship and take the course; they need not be students at RCCC.

However, grant funds will run out after the first 65 students, so those interested in the program are urged to apply immediately.

Anyone wishing to take the course can call Shirley Gay at (252) 862-1307.

There is a CDL Career Day being held on the RCCC campus at 1 p.m. on March 21.

The seven students who completed the course today (Daniel Blythe, Jacqueline Gilcrest, Jeffery James, Landis Robinson, Jason Sawyer, Antwain Smith and Michael Wells) are all from Bertie and Hertford counties, according to Hoggard.