Students win Grainger Tools for Tomorrow scholarships
Athens Technical College students Leo Barron and Randel Puckett recently received $2,000 scholarships from Grainger, a local distributor of facilities maintenance supplies supporting Athens and the surrounding area for more than 70 years.
Mr. Barron of Statham is a Drafting Technology student and Mr. Puckett of Hoschton is an Industrial Systems Technology student. They are two of 150 students at 75 community and technical colleges throughout the United States to receive the Grainger Tools for Tomorrow scholarship this year. After graduation, both students will receive customized Westward toolkits from Grainger to help launch their careers.
"Today's Athens Technical College students will become tomorrow's industrial skilled tradesmen who will be responsible for keeping Georgia communities working and growing," said Walter Wellborn, manager of Grainger's Athens branch. "One of the best ways to invest in local communities is to contribute to the education of our future workforce."
Both Barron and Puckett decided to pursue technical degrees after the economic downturn impacted their careers.
After being with a company for over 25 years, Mr. Puckett's position was eliminated last year. He took a temporary job remodeling foreclosed homes. He then decided he wanted to pursue a new career in facilities maintenance work. Mr. Puckett enrolled at Athens Technical College to gain a greater knowledge about modern tools, technologies, and processes.
"I am grateful for Grainger's generous contribution," he said. "This scholarship provides me with an opportunity to focus on my professional goal of becoming a leader in a new facilities maintenance skills position. Using the skills I've acquired throughout my lifetime, along with my education at Athens Technical College, I am confident and ready to excel in a new career."
Even with unemployment at an all-time high, some skilled labor jobs are going unfilled. As baby boomers retire, the skilled labor shortfall may reach epidemic proportions. Technical college students will play a critical role in helping to close this growing gap.
"We appreciate the strong, supportive relationships between Grainger and Athens Technical College. The Tools for Tomorrow scholarship is a great service to our students," said Dr. Flora W. Tydings, the college's president. "This is the third year our students have competed and received a Grainger Tools for Tomorrow scholarship."
Grainger, in conjunction with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), launched the Grainger Tools for Tomorrow scholarship program in 2006. The program is designed to help students in technical and industrial programs of study who have demonstrated drive, commitment, and leadership realize their educational and career goals.
W.W. Grainger, Inc. (NYSE: GWW), had sales of $6.2 billion in 2009. The company is North America's leading broadline supplier of maintenance, repair, and operating products. Grainger is also expanding its presence in Asia and Latin America.
Pictured from left to right are Leo Barron, Grainger Branch Manager Walter Wellborn, and Randel Puckett.