New truckers

Students in the third graduating class of Vance-Granville Community College’s CDL are, in front (holding sign), David Vargas; on second row, from left, Sherrell Smothers and Britley Reed; third row, from left, Shavar Davis, Tamia Haskins, Robert Bullock, De’Karri Green, Michael Hutchison and instructor Chuck Womack; fourth row, from left, lead instructor Jim Womack, instructor James Jones, Kenneth Veney, Johnnie Alston, Timothy Throckmorton, DaShawn Lewis, Treyshaun Green, QuinTavious Alston and instructor Eric Burchette.

HENDERSON — In late May, Vance-Granville Community College celebrated the graduation of the third class in the short history of its Truck Driver Training, or CDL, program.

The program includes a combination of classroom instruction, range driving and road driving. With the end of training, students have successfully completed their N.C. Department of Transportation exams, making them eligible for their “Class A” Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL-A) and fully employable as truck drivers.

“This is the third graduating class since the CDL-A truck driver training program started back at VGCC in February of 2020,” said Kyle Burwell, director of occupational extension. “VGCC continues to be extremely proud of all of our CDL program graduates and their continued success in finding gainful employment in the trucking industry.”

One of the 14 graduates in the most recent class, Sherell Smothers of Franklinton, said that she enrolled in the program because she had long dreamed of starting her own small business with multiple commercial vehicles.

“My first day on the range, shifting gears, I wanted to give up, but I thank God for my instructors encouraging me to continue to push forward,” Smothers said. “Every day I attended class, I knew that something would be rewarding at the end.”

Now, Smothers has her reward. She is now her own boss, as owner and operator of Legacy Tranzport LLC.

A fourth CDL class recently began at VGCC, and a fifth is scheduled to start soon, with a mandatory orientation session on Monday, July 19, at 10 a.m. The nine-week program will run from Aug. 9 through Oct. 12.

The program, certified by the Professional Truck Driver Institute, is considered essential to meeting the needs of many companies who need drivers to move goods across the country. Local employers have shown strong support for VGCC’s program and have spoken to students about job opportunities.

The college offers the program in collaboration with Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute .

To enroll in the program, students must be at least 18 years old, have a valid North Carolina driver’s license, and be able to read and speak English well enough to take instructions from highway signs, to converse with officials and to complete the required reports.

For more information on the Truck Driver Training Program, please visit www.vgcc.edu/cdl or contact Kyle Burwell, director of occupational extension, at 252-738-3276 or burwellk@vgcc.edu.