LUMBERTON — People who enter the Robeson Community College campus will now see proof of Piedmont Natural Gas’ investment in the institution’s Industrial Technology, Welding and HVAC programs.
On Monday afternoon, company representatives, and RCC students and staff members watched as a portion of building No. 3, which houses the College and Career Readiness and Cosmetology programs, was unveiled to reveal the Piedmont Natural Gas name and logo. The building sits to the front and center of the college’s campus, as seen by motorists driving through the main entrance.
“It is a privilege to have building 3 named in their honor,” RCC President Singler said. “Their gift of $100,000 reflects their commitment to student’s success and community service. It also demonstrates the partnership between Robeson Community College and business and industries to which we are committed to providing a world-class workforce.”
The company earned naming rights to the building after presenting a check for $100,000 to the the Robeson Community College Foundation as an investment in funding student scholarships and program expansion in industrial technology, welding, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. The presentation took place in the Charles V. Chrestman Workforce Development Building in June 2019.
Bruce Barkley, vice president of Piedmont Natural Gas, said it was an honor just being part of the growth at Robeson Community College.
“We’re just so excited and humbled and honored to be a part of what’s going on here at Robeson Community College,” Barkley said.
The company’s community support is often manifested through education, he said.
“Education can be a key lifeblood building block of communities, and that brings us to our industrial technology scholarship at Robeson Community College,” Barkley said.
Channing Jones, director of Economic Development for Robeson County, said investment in students is key to retention of businesses in the county.
“When we see companies who invest in our community and we see companies who recognize the importance of educational institutions in our communities and how they affect the direct lives of our family members, it’s a tremendous benefit,” Jones said.
Scholarships administered by the college will directly influence the workforce of the future, he said.
“Workforce is the No. 1 issue for any company doing any business,” Jones said. “If we don’t have skilled labor to provide the technical expertise that companies such as PNG, companies such as Campbell’s Soup, companies such as Graphic Packaging, companies such as Sanderson Farms — if we can’t provide that workforce, we cannot recruit. We cannot successfully recruit and retain those businesses.”
College board of trustees member Morgan Jones said the investment is not only changing the lives of students but families in Robson County by addressing the dire need.
“It’s no kept secret of our need here in the county,” she said. “I can’t wait to follow the journey of our scholarship recipients.”
Daniel Fields and John Walker, students at RCC, already have benefited from the Piedmont Natural Gas Industrial Technology Scholarship.
Walker is studying industrial technology and said the scholarship has allowed him the opportunity to not only learn to build but also repair machinery. He said he couldn’t wait to put his “foot in the door” at RCC to be trained by professionals in their field.
“There’s some very good teachers and very good instructors here,” Walker said. “There are many people that have not even thought about advancing towards educational programs. I have made a decision, and I’m quite sure that their are others who have made the decision, to head towards Robeson Community College.”
Walker has about two years left in the program.
Fields, also an industrial technology student, has about seven classes to go until graduation. He said the scholarship he received helped combat the financial burden that comes with entering college.
“It is challenging every day, but this program is making a huge difference in my confidence, knowledge and everyday life,” he said. “The Piedmont Natural Gas helped me to obtain this degree without the financial burden.”
After being a truck driver, Fields chose to go back to school and follow his passion for working with his hands in the industrial maintenance field. He currently works at the Campbell Soup plant in Maxton repairing machinery.
“I heard someone great say ‘If you do what you love, you never work a day of your life,’” Fields said.
He’s now doing what he loves.
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