Students of Dow Chemical Company's U.S. Apprenticeship Program have signed on to receive training at Victoria College.
Jonas Harvey and Samantha Wurm can't imagine a better opportunity.
Harvey and Wurm are two of 12 to have been recently chosen for Dow Chemical Company's U.S. Apprenticeship Program. Over 400 applied for the program in which Dow partners with Victoria College to utilize VC's Process Technology Program. Dow pays for the students' tuition and books while they work toward obtaining an Associate of Applied Science degree. The students also receive pay as employees of Dow during their apprenticeship.
"Something like this hardly ever comes up," said Harvey, 22, who is from Cuero and previously worked in the oilfield. "There are no other places where you can get paid to go to school and have your schooling paid for. You get a great education out of it, and no one can take that away from you. Plus, you get a job right out of the gate."
"I am very excited and very thankful," said Wurm, 21, who is from Yoakum. "This gives me an opportunity that most people don't get. Most people aren't able to go to school and work. You either have to pick one or the other. I am very fortunate. This is the best place I can be right now."
The program began in 2015. Approximately 150 students are in the program nationwide, according to Mark Schroller, technology leader for the U.S. Apprenticeship Program at the Seadrift site.
"We currently have about 30 students in the program at Seadrift," Schroller said during Thursday's U.S. Apprenticeship "Sign-On Day" at Victoria College's Emerging Technology Complex. " We partnered with Victoria College to provide a combination of a two-year associate degree and on-the-job training. An apprentice gains the knowledge and theory through the Victoria College technical degree programs and on-the job-training at the Seadrift site.
"Victoria College has excellent technical degree programs in place. The program content is a win-win for Dow and the apprentice. The apprentice starts out at $14 an hour, which includes a 40-hour work week and college, study and on-the-job hours. Receiving a salary while going to school with tuition and books paid for by Dow allows the apprentice to have a debt-free college degree."
Fred Chastain, VC's assistant professor of process technology, has 30 years of experience in the industry. The students receive process operator technician, millwright technician and instrument technician training.
"The students learn everything from how to be an operator to how to be a team member to how to operate computer systems," Chastain said. "All the instructors in our program have over 15 years of experience in the industry. Dow is very instrumental in the success and direction of our program. Together, we bring a lot to the table for the students."