The Career and Technical Education (CTE) National Signing Day conducted in the Fusion Room of the Energy Technology Center last month had all the usual accoutrements – excited students, smiling officials and tables ready with documents, pens and ball caps. But the 36 students who signed letters of career intent were not prospective quarterbacks or wide receivers, but budding auto mechanics, construction managers and other technicians.
TCC was one of more than 40 community and technical colleges throughout the nation participating in the live-streamed event sponsored by the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3) and was intended to showcase students in high-demand trade fields.
“Congratulation on your decisions. This is an important day for us,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs Dana Grove. “We have signing ceremonies for athletes. Why not have a one for non-athletes? You are certainly as important, and we could make a case that you are more important because of the value of the careers you will enter.”
The ceremony also sought to counter the negative stereotype of technical education. “They always used to say, ‘Two-year colleges are for losers’ or ‘You didn’t have a good GPA,’” said student Nancy Martinez, who was in the top 10 percent of her high school class. “They expected me to be a doctor or a lawyer, and I said, ‘I’m going into automotive technology.’ They were like, ‘Oh, at least you’re doing something.’ I was like, ‘Something? There is a high need for automotive technicians.’”
The Board of Trustees was represented by Gwen Morrison, who – after joking that she could use a few of the knowledgeable students for some home repairs, encouraged them to “Tell someone what a great opportunity you have here.”