Written by Kayla Morris – SCC Foundation Intern, Summer 2021
[Clinton, N.C.] – On June 17, 2021, Sampson Community College had yet another round of Truck Driver Training students graduate making them the 96th class to finish the rigorous program. The course started off with 24 students and ended with 14 graduates —proving just how challenging the Truck Driver Training curriculum can be.
After finishing the course, several students had already secured jobs with companies such as Schneider National, TMC, and A/K Demolition. Some students plan on being freelance drivers by owning their own tractor-trailers.
Graduate, Takoda Bradshaw, says, “My next steps are to be an owner operator and move out west. I’ll own my own truck and be able to go wherever I want. I can’t wait for the freedom that comes with the open road.”
Travel was a huge influence for many of the students in this class. Most of the graduates were eager to start their jobs, viewing work as a chance to see the world.
Along with the excitement of driving professionally, students recognize that being a truck driver comes with plenty of responsibility. “The most challenging part about truck driving is being on the road. It’s not just you anymore. You have to worry about everything around you and a second delay could mean life or death,” graduate, Jorge Diaz, stated.
Graduates agreed that one of the most challenging parts of the course was dealing with other drivers on the road. Drivers who pull out in front of a semi-truck at the last minute are real stressors on truck drivers.
Each truck weighs around 35,000 pounds when empty. With a full load, semi-trucks can weigh up to 40 tons (80,000 pounds). This makes it extremely difficult for these trucks to stop quickly, so it is important for drivers to take caution when riding alongside a tractor-trailer.
Along with the challenges of SCC Truck Driver Training, graduates reflected on what they liked best about the course. Most of the class said that the trucking instructors were their favorite part of the program.
“I really enjoyed learning from the instructors because they really put you edge. There are so many tests and challenges in this program — you never know what you’re going to get,” Graduate, Rashaun Moore, shared.
At the start of truck driver training, students are given 600 points — points which they can lose by being late to class, not abiding by class rules, exceeding testing time limits, and much more. Students are unable to gain points back. Once a student loses 181 points, they are cut from the program.
Graduate, Joshua Willis, says, “The points system is one of the hardest things about the course. 181 points and you’re gone, so you have to make sure that you’re doing everything to the best of your ability.”
Trucking instructor Lantz Lackey commented on the strictness of the program saying, “We are kind of tough, but the reason we’re tough is because we want the students to be safe and know what they’re doing when they get out on the road by themselves. We don’t want them looking like they didn’t learn anything from our program.”
Overall, students are grateful for being able to start their careers at SCC. The graduates want future trucking students to know to take the course seriously, come prepared, and stick with the program even when it gets difficult.
“Good luck! It’s hard out here, I’m not going to lie. The instructors are hard on you, but it’s worth it,” graduate, Wanda Simmons, encouraged.
About Sampson Community College: Sampson Community College is a member of the North Carolina Community College System, located in Clinton, NC in Sampson County. The college offers many programs to include two-year degrees, college transfer, continuing education and workforce development options and early college education.