HUDSON, NC (August 16, 2017)…After just a few hooks, rooftops come into view. Once you reach the crossarm, there’s a slight breeze from the swaying of the pole beneath you and you can see above the tree line to the roadways, buildings, and homes dotting the landscape below. The views from the top of the poles set on Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Electrical Lineman training grounds can be stunning. And until just a few months ago, that view had only been seen by men. Jenny Little of Conover changed all that when she became the first female to register for CCC&TI’s rigorous electrical lineman training program.
Little successfully completed the program in August and, along with eight other classmates, received her certificate of completion during a ceremony held at the college’s J.E. Broyhill Civic Center in Lenoir on Friday, Aug. 11. Later that day, Little demonstrated her skills on the pole yard, the culmination of many months of hard work and determination following an unexpected layoff from her manufacturing job.
Little, a 2006 graduate of Alexander Central High School, spent 10 years working for a local truck manufacturer and was laid off in 2016. After her layoff, a long-time friend who was considering enrolling in CCC&TI’s Electrical Lineman program suggested that she take a look at it as well. “My friend Dale had a friend who had completed the program and gotten a great job,” she said. “So we went to his house and I tried on the hooks to see how they worked and felt. I knew then, I wanted to give the program a try.”
Little says that overall she had a great experience throughout the program and received a lot of support and encouragement from her classmates and instructors, alike. “I think they might have been hesitant about the idea at first,” she said. “But as I started to complete tasks and reach milestones in the classroom and on the pole yard, they started coming around. I knew I’d convinced them that I was capable of completing the training when they had a women’s port-a-john installed at the pole yard.”
There were several factors that kept her motivated while completing the more than 500 hours of hands-on and classroom training. “I’m really competitive,” she said. “That helped. I also turned 30 this year and I told myself that I was going to cut loose and get out of my comfort zone.”
Little said that climbing the poles and the grueling physical demands were not the greatest challenges, but rather taking the first step toward something new and completely different. “Enrolling was the hardest part,” she said. “Walking in and saying ‘I’m here and I’m committed to doing this.’ That was the toughest part. From there I had so much support and encouragement. I’d do it all over again. I highly recommend the program to anyone, male or female.”
Little has applied for jobs with several local employers and hopes to find long-term employment in the field. Her instructors in CCC&TI’s Lineman Program are confident she has what it takes to be successful. “If every student had her attitude and determination, they’d all be successful,” said Instructor Dean Ford. Program Coordinator David Coffey agrees. “Jenny put forth a lot of effort throughout the course. She met every assessment standard in our program,” said Coffey. “The success of our program is due to the quality graduates we are able to provide to our industry partners. This is what has sustained the program for six years and is allowing it to continue to grow.”
For more information on Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute’s Electrical Lineman Institute, visit www.cccti.edu or call 828-726-2242.