When local industry leaders approached administration at Sampson Community College about incorporating more logistics and supply chain courses into the Truck Driver Training curriculum, the college quickly began to determine the best way to meet this need.

Understanding that there were high school students interested in Truck Driver Training, and knowing the program would meet local industry needs, Sampson Community College designed the Transportation Basics program. Students in the program took several Supply Chain Management Courses, received a certification for the completed courses, and then went on to complete the rigorous Truck Driver Training program through the college’s Workforce Development and Continuing Education division. 

Catherine Ezzell Joyner, President of Ezzell Trucking, Inc., advocated for the program at the college, knowing it would be an asset to her company and others local to Sampson County and neighboring counties.

“Logistics is an integral part of our economy. Without logistics, the supply chain is disrupted: food would disappear from grocery stores, hospitals would run out of medical supplies, and gas stations would close – all in a matter of days. All industries use some aspect logistics to operate. The SCC graduates of the Transportation Basics Program will be able to enter into the industry fulfilling any number of logistics roles, whether it’s the front-line facing duties of a truck driver, or a back-office operations role assisting the driver to complete a dispatch,” Joyner stated. “These logistics professionals are part of an essential workforce, and they serve the community in times of need, especially this year when faced with the pandemic. The logistics industry is always evolving, and the career opportunities available are growing with it.”

Transportation Basics graduates at Truck Driver Training graduation. From left to right: Nathan Royal, Dawson Raynor, Jordan Yaw (Photo Credit/ Cheyenne McNeill)

The Transportation Basics Program was created as a Career and College Promise (CCP) Pathway for high schoolers, meaning tuition costs are waived—enrolled students need only pay for fees as the college covers the cost of books. Though 10 students began the program in January, only three were able to maintain the rigor. Those three students—Jordan Yaw, Nathan Royal, and Dawson Raynor—graduated with other Truck Driver Training students on September 3.

Yaw acknowledged the toughness required in the program. From long hours of class, dedicated instructors, and rigorous challenges on the road, Yaw admits the program surely was not easy. Still, he encourages those interested in the program.

“If it’s something you want to do, it most definitely can be done. But, you have to want it,” he stated.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average age of a person in truck transportation is between 45-54 years. Creating this program allows these students to break into the industry early, create long careers if they choose, and have the opportunity for advancement through the Supply Chain Management certificate.

“The program is the first-ever of its kind in North Carolina,” shared Amanda Bradshaw, Dean of Workforce Development and Continuing Education. “The students also have the option to return at a later date and complete a degree program for the Supply Chain Management area.”

The program was created through the joint effort of Truck Driver Training faculty, Supply Chain Management faculty, counselors at local high schools, and transportation industry leaders. Each voice allowed the program to be custom-made—making it quite specialized but tailored to the careers these students will begin.

“We were excited to be able to offer this one-of-a-kind program to local high school students. It was a great collaborative effort between our local high schools and SCC’s Supply Chain Management and Transportation Basics Programs,” stated Dr. Susan Baxter, Business Division Chair. “These three young men persevered through all facets of the programs and are now ready to start their careers – just months after finishing high school. We offer sincere congratulations and wish them all the best in their new careers.”

Local high school students interested in the program can contact their counselor to connect with the Career and College Promise counselors at Sampson Community College.

About Sampson Community College: Sampson Community College is a member of the North Carolina Community College System, located in Clinton, NC in Sampson County. The college offers many programs to include two-year degrees, college transfer, continuing education and workforce development options, and early college education.