The humming of a tractor-trailer engine coming to life signals the closing of an evening filled with celebration for the 6 students who recently completed Tri-County Community College’s commercial driver license training program, including veteran truck driver John Olszewski, a resident of Murphy.
“I was a truck driver back in the 80s,” Olszewski said as he waited to receive his certificate of completion. “A few things are the same, but a lot has changed. I’ve really learned a lot in this class.”
Tri-County Community College began offering a Class A and Class B CDL program in August, both of which prepare students to enter the rapidly-growing and lucrative industry of professional truck driving.
“It’s a great job,” said Sandra Page, instructor for the CDL program at Tri-County Community College. “I’ve been driving for more than 30 years, and in that time, I’ve met a lot of great people and seen almost the entirety of this country – and it was all part of my job.”
The students gathered on the college’s driving pad in the fading sunlight with their loved ones, taking turns posing for family photos on the college’s tractor-trailer and enjoying one last evening with their peers and instructors.
“I used to instruct for a private commercial driving school, and they charged more than double the cost of this program,” said Barry Helton, another instructor for the CDL program at Tri-County Community College. “So students in this program are really getting the same quality instruction for half the cost and staying close to home.”
For Nathaniel Cody, a resident of the Marble area, staying close to home is what attracted him to this program. Cody’s brother Matthew also enrolled in the program at the same time, and both finished their training together.
“We didn’t have to travel far from home to take classes,” Cody said. “So we could save some money before taking the CDL test.”
Olszewski said he has already completed and passed his CDL testing and applied to several regional companies for a full-time job.
“I’d like to be able to stay in the southeast near my family, and my ultimate dream is to buy my own truck someday,” he said.
Tri-County Community College officials plan to offer the next CDL training class beginning Dec. 1 with weekend class sessions to allow for maximum flexibility in fitting with students’ schedules.
For more information or to place your name on the interest list for the next CDL training class, call (828) 837-6810.
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