High school student Amy Avalos started a welding class last month after completing a Business 111 class for her Diesel certification. The class made an impression on her because “it can be creative and artistic.” Avalos was one of 33 high school students who committed to a future in Career and Technical Education. Participating students were from ACE High School, Academy for the Arts, Careers and Technical Education, North Valleys and Sparks High Schools, and Rise Academy.
The event, which was organized in collaboration with the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3), enabled TMCC to join 75 community colleges across the United States in celebrating CTE career paths by hosting an official signing event. Five thousand students nationally signed letters, committing to futures in manufacturing, construction, architecture, HVAC/R, welding, automotive and diesel, among several others.
The event intentionally mirrors the NCAA’s National Signing Day for athletes who commit to play sports in college: students sign a letter and receive a TMCC cap showing their commitment to continue the Career and Technical Education at TMCC’s William N. Pennington Applied Technology Center. Kyler Cutty, a student at ACE High school, began taking dual-enrollment courses through the “middle college” program when he was a sophomore. Cutty signed a letter of intent to continue his development as an HVAC/R technician because “...I know I can get a well-paying job.”
Students from ACE High School participated in TMCC’s inaugural NC3 Signing Day event in 2019. According to Director of ACE High School Bob Deruse, last year ACE High School students earned 1,300 college credits, and this year 41% of their student body are enrolled in dual credit, middle college or JumpStart classes at the Applied Technology Center. “This event is much bigger than just signing for your athletic sport or a scholarship. It’s signing for your future. And TMCC is a great place to start,” he said.
Students who signed letters are entering professions where growth is the rule, not the exception. “CTE is not just promising, it’s robust,” said TMCC President Dr. Karin Hilgersom. “We’re on target for about 5,000 new jobs a year, and that’s just the jobs that EDAWN brings in. And the average wage, at this point in time, is over $30 an hour.”
In addition to students and their families, the event also invited several local employers, who were able to speak with students about employment opportunities. Employers in attendance included: Master Mechanic, Click Bond, H&T Battery Components, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Pacific Cheese, Pro-One Automotive, RSD, Refrigeration Supplies Distributor and Tesla.
Josh Hartzog, District Director of Career Technical Education for the Washoe County School District, spoke to students on how they are setting themselves up for success. According to Hartzog, there are currently 40 CTE programs offered in WCSD high schools that offer students the opportunity to earn up to a dozen college credits toward a degree or certificate program. CTE offers much more than credit hours and certification, however; it offers certainty. “All of you here today are a part of a movement. A movement of young adults taking a special path deeper into the path of Career Technical Education. A movement of people blessed early on in life with having a pretty good idea of what it is you want to do. And more importantly, of an idea exactly on how to get there,” he said.
The key message of the day, however, was about persistence. “Never lose sight of that purpose that brought you here in the first place,” said Hartzog. “Your purpose is a promise of a career that’s fulfilling and doing work that’s important, that helps people in meaningful ways. Careers that will allow you to build, to fix, to maintain, to create. And that’s really the beauty of Career Technical Education because it will, more often than not, allow you to do work where you can point at the end of the day, and say: I did that.”
For more information about studying Applied Technologies at TMCC, contact the department at 775-856-5300.
TMCC President Dr. Karin Hilgersom welcomes students and families to the NC3 Signing Event.
Students were called to the stage by program. These two students signed letters of intent to continue their education in TMCC’s Machining program.
Students who sign a letter of intent receive a copy of the letter and a TMCC cap.
Family members, education officials, faculty and leadership from TMCC as well as local employers applauded students.
Thirty-three students toss their caps in a symbolic gesture toward their bright futures.
TMCC President Dr. Hilgersom, Applied Technologies Leadership and ACE Leadership join signees.
Corporate event sponsor, Snap-On, also provided signees with hats.
Local employers spoke with signees about employment opportunities in their desired career paths.