Gaston College program makes truck driving a family affair

Gaston College program makes truck driving a family affair

Gaston College Truck Driver Training

The Truck Driver Training program at Gaston College has put members of one local family on the road to rewarding careers. Danicqua Knox, who will graduate from the program in March 2021, is the latest family member to go through the program, following her mother and two brothers.

Danicqua’s mother, Deborah Knox, became interested in truck driving as a career about 19 years ago, but circumstances prevented her from pursuing it until several years later. When the timing was right, she researched various driving schools and determined that the Gaston College Truck Driver Training program was the best fit for her. She entered the program in January 2011 and graduated in March of that year. “Graduation was the best day of my life,” said Deborah. “In my opinion, the program instructors were the best any school could ever have.”

When Deborah first started driving, she would take turns bringing her children on the road with her. Her sons, both of whom worked in the warehouse industry, enjoyed the experience and decided to follow their mother’s career path. Dontavius Cooper graduated from the Gaston College program in 2013 and his brother Steven Good, Jr., graduated two years later. 

Deborah and her sons have worked for many different companies, driving different types of trucks and trailers, and gaining experience. “They say that when you love what you do for a living, it stops being a job and becomes a lifestyle,” said Deborah. “I have loved being in the trucking business.”

The COVID-19 pandemic adversely impacted many industries and people in 2020 and at one-point Deborah and Dontavius, who were working for the same company, were furloughed. However, their skills were in demand, and just a few weeks later they both were hired by a trucking company that contracts with Amazon, and the company seems to be thriving. “Everything has been good so far,” said Deborah. “So good that my other son Steven got a job here as well.”

Gaston College Truck Driver Training ClassDanicqua is enjoying the Gaston College Truck Driver Training program and has been riding with her mother on weekends to get some extra training. She looks forward to graduating and continuing what has become a family tradition of truck driving. “I’d like to say thank you to the school and instructors, and to all the people that helped me and my family get started in our careers,” she said.

The Truck Driver Training Program at Gaston College, a collaborative program with Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute, gives students the training required to operate tractor-trailer rigs, get their commercial driver’s license (CDL) and become professional truck drivers.

Graduates of the program will have the opportunity to be employed by commercial trucking companies, become an owner-operator, or take advantage of local jobs. The Truck Driver Training program is certified by the Professional Truck Driving Institute (PTDI).

“Gaston College has one of the best Truck Driver Training programs in the South,” said Donna Blake, Coordinator of Occupational and Continuing Education. “We know this because our students who obtained their CDLs through our program spread the word to their family and friends about how excellent our program is, and these folks enroll in the program themselves. Students have great-paying jobs waiting for them when they graduate from this program. It is truly an honor to work with students who are going places and earning a great living after graduation from the Gaston College Truck Driver Training Program.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job prospects are projected to be very good for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers with the proper training and a clean driving record. Overall employment of delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations.

Next Training Class

The next Truck Driver Training class begins on May 25, 2021, with a mandatory orientation session on Wednesday, May 5. The 8.5-week class consists of classroom instruction, range driving, and road driving. The cost for tuition and fees for the class is $1,876, well below the average cost for commercial truck driving schools. A payment plan is available, and there are opportunities for GEER and SECU scholarships to partially defray the cost of tuition and fees.

For more information about the Truck Driver Training program, contact Donna Blake at blake.donna@gaston.edu or 704-922-2267.

 

 

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