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Hartselle graduates earn manufacturing scholarships

Two Hartselle graduates have earned scholarships through their participation in the school’s manufacturing academy.

Webb Harris and Jay McElwain both earned scholarships from the Alabama Automotive Manufacturing Association in the amount of $3,600 to help further their education and careers in the automotive industry.

As a Tiger Launch student, Harris mentioned to management that he needed to know what the day-to-day maintenance positions with Cerrowire look like. They put him in contact with Cynthia Riggs, who works in the business development department of Cerrowire. He also met virtually with Kory O’Shields from the Cerrowire plant in Utah about beginning an apprenticeship program for high school graduates and current operators within the Cerrowire employees.

Harris holds the only apprenticeship position at the plant. He begins as a full-time employee; they are paying his tuition to go into the industrial maintenance electrical and instrumentation program at Calhoun Community College. He will have full benefits and 401K with the position.

In addition to his scholarship through the AAMA, McElwain was offered a position in Calhoun’s FAME program. He will be working at GE three days a week and going to school two days a week.

Elisa Harris, who works as an instructor in the manufacturing academy at HHS, said she has taught both students in their dual enrollment courses since the academy began three years ago. She said a goal of the academy is to educate students on options that await them in skilled trades and industries.

“We’re also trying to help them develop some of those employability skills, some of those soft skills that are so desired,” she said. “Jay will not have any out-of-pocket costs because of the FAME program.”

Before the coronavirus limited the school’s ability to take field trips, Harris said her students visited Honda and Polaris and went on several college tours to view their technical divisions.

“A lot of these industries will pay for these students to go back and get an engineering degree at a four-year degree if they desire it,” Harris said. “UAH has a partner with the FAME program where they will take all their credits into their engineering program. You can’t beat that.”

Harris said her next mission is to get to the parents to recruit and educate them on the opportunities available for their children.

“This could help a lot of kids who want to go to a four-year school but don’t want the debt or can’t afford it – or even those who aren’t quite there on their math requirements. This could give them a little more time,” she said.

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