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Juneteenth Closure

TCC will be closed Wednesday, June 19, in observance of the Juneteenth holiday.

From service to semis: TCC receives grant that aims to train more vets as truckers

Tidewater Community College received an eighth federal grant to specifically help train military veterans and their spouses for careers in trucking.

The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently awarded TCC a $102,769 grant, which will be administered by the college’s Center for Military and Veterans Education (CMVE).

TCC is one of 12 community colleges in the nation and the only college in Virginia to receive the award.

“We’re very proud of the work we’re doing to serve our military veterans and their spouses in trucking,” said Beno Rubin, Ph.D., Pathway Dean for Manufacturing and Transportation. “TCC’s trucking instructors have over 100 years of combined training and road experience and share that knowledge with students behind the wheel and in the classroom.”

“During this pivotal time with supply chain issues, it’s especially important to offer veterans, who know how to serve, a way to contribute even after they leave military service,” Rubin added.

Since the initial grant was received in 2014, a total of 245 veterans and spouses have enrolled in TCC’s Truck Driving program using this funding.

Recipients of the grant pay nothing to complete the one-semester, 16-credit certificate. Students learn how to drive a truck in state-of-the-art simulators that allow them to practice in varied road and weather conditions. The program includes 140 hours of on-the-road training. Course work qualifies students to obtain the Class A CDL (commercial driver’s license) from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

After completing the program, TCC instructors take students to the DMV test site for the final skills exam. Students must be able to successfully complete a series of tests including a set of backing maneuvers with the truck and a road test in live traffic.

TCC students have a 98% first-time pass rate on the DMV tests for commercial licenses.

TCC has its own driving range at its Center for Workforce Solutions in Suffolk.

Trucking classes are taught at TCC’s Center for Workforce Solutions on College Drive in northern Suffolk. Day, evening and weekend sessions are offered year-round.

Contact Alesia Wroten, at awroten@tcc.edu or 757-822-7714, for information on qualifying for the grant program.

TCC secures seventh consecutive grant aimed to help veterans transition to careers in trucking

Tidewater Community College received a seventh federal grant to help train military veterans and their spouses for careers in trucking.

The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently awarded TCC a $94,842 grant, which will be administered by the college’s Center for Military and Veterans Education (CMVE).

“So far we’ve helped more than 200 transitioning military, veterans and dependents train for a career in trucking at no cost to them,” said Alesia Wroten, veteran resource liaison with TCC’s CMVE.  “We are grateful to be one of two schools in Virginia to receive this funding, especially as the need for trained truck drivers is growing nationwide.”

TCC alum Tim Raub is a Navy veteran who now drives trucks.
Navy veteran Tim Raub earned his Truck Driver certificate at TCC.

According to the American Trucking Association, the United States will be short 175,000 drivers by 2026. A lack of drivers continues to make goods more expensive and delays orders as freight rates are climbing.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average age of a commercial truck driver is 55 years old. A significant percentage of these drivers will retire over the next 10 years.

TCC is one of 21 educational institutions that received funds from the $2 million federal grant to help train veterans for jobs as commercial bus and truck drivers.

Since TCC received its first grant in 2014, 220 veterans and spouses have enrolled in the Truck Driving program.


TCC students have a 98% pass rate on the DMV tests for commercial licenses.

Recipients of the grant pay nothing to complete the one-semester, 16-credit certificate. Students learn how to drive a truck in state-of-the-art simulators that allow them to practice in varied road and weather conditions. The program includes 140 hours of on-the-road training. Course work qualifies students to obtain the Class A CDL (commercial driver’s license) from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.

Classes are taught at the Center for Workforce Solutions on College Drive in northern Suffolk. Day, evening and weekend sessions are available.

Contact Alesia Wroten, at awroten@tcc.edu or 757-822-7714, for information on qualifying for the grant program.

“It’s my calling to keep supplies moving nationwide – whether it’s the pandemic or a natural disaster.” – Elwin Hines, TCC Truck Driving alum

Elwin Hines has been on the road since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. He has logged an average of 3,000 miles a week, bringing food products, paper goods and water to the hardest hit areas.

The Portsmouth resident who graduated from TCC’s trucking program more than a decade ago was selected as Driver of the Year (For-Hire Trucking) by Lytx, a global leader in video telematics committed to improving safety and efficiency behind the wheel.

Hines has driven more than a million miles for TransAm Trucking in his freightliner, living life on the road.

Elwin Hines making his way to a Tyson plant in Junction City, Iowa.

“It’s my calling to keep supplies moving nationwide – whether it’s the pandemic or a natural disaster,” Hines said. “People rely on TransAm drivers to get into the area’s most in need.”

Since he started with the company 13 years ago, he has maintained a spotless driving record – zero preventable accidents, zero claims charged against him and zero moving violations.

“TCC is the driving force behind my achievement,” Hines said. “A school that may be considered just a community college got me where I am today.”

Hines acknowledges trucking instructors Wallace Miller and Matt Isaac for teaching him the skills that transformed him from a brick mason struggling in a recession to a successful truck driver who loves going to work every day.

“Both of them were my mentors. Those were the two men who inspired me and encouraged me that I could do this and really achieve it,” he said. “I knew the trucking industry offered stability. Nothing moves in this country without a truck.”

The Booker T. Washington High School graduate regularly gives presentations to budding drivers nationwide and stresses the value of the TCC curriculum. He even recruits drivers for TransAm Trucking during TCC events.

“There’s no such thing as a dumb truck driver,” he said. “We as professional drivers have to get out of that mindset of just shifting gears and going down the highway. The technology has changed so much. You have to have an education to be a truck driver.”

TCC’s Career Studies Certificate in Trucking prepares graduates to obtain their Class A Commercial Driver’s License. The 16-week program offered during the day, evening and on weekends teaches students Department of Transportation rules, defensive driving, maintenance, hazardous material and highway and city driving.

TCC trucking grads have a 98% pass rate on DMV exams.

“It’s a stern program, but it works,” Hines said. “TCC turns out the best drivers in the country.”

Hines is among them.

When Hines comes off the road, he plans to take a teaching post in TCC’s Truck Driver training program.

Ten things to know about TCC’s Truck Driving program

Why sit behind a desk when you can sit behind the wheel? A trucking career allows you the opportunity for financial reward and professional growth thanks to a job where you’re always on the move.

TCC has its own fleet of trucks for student drivers.
  1. Sixteen weeks is all it takes to train for a new trucking career. Tidewater Community College’s Truck Driving program offers classes that cover Department of Transportation rules and regulations, defensive driving, maintenance, hazardous material and highway and city driving.
  2. Day, evening and weekend classes are offered year-round.
  3. TCC is the only driver training program that runs its own program that includes a state-of-the-art driving simulator, as well as a fleet of trucks.
  4. TCC’s instructors have over 100 years of behind-the-wheel truck driving experience to share with students during the program.
  5. Military veterans pay zero for tuition and fees thanks to a federal grant offered through the college’s Center for Military and Veterans Education.
  6. After completing the program, TCC instructors take students to the DMV test site for the final skills exam. Students must be able to successfully complete a series of tests including a set of backing maneuvers with the truck and a road test in live traffic.
  7. TCC students have a 98% pass rate on the DMV tests for commercial licenses.
  8. The trucking program at TCC provides 120 hours in the classroom and 140 hours of practical application.
  9. TCC hosts recruiters and employers to visit classes and present employment opportunities for graduates. There are more than 60,000 available jobs in this industry.
  10. The price is right, too. TCC’s program is 40% cheaper than private trucking schools.
TCC is the only school in Hampton Roads with a driving simulator.

For more information about TCC’s Truck Driving program, contact Matt Woods at mwoods@tcc.edu or call 757-822-2639.

Marine vet finds new career on the road thanks to TCC trucking grant

Former U.S. Marine Chris Gaillard found a new career as a truck driver after the training she received at Tidewater Community College that came without a price tag.

“I love what I do,” said Gaillard, who benefitted from a federal grant awarded to TCC’s Center for Military and Veterans Education (CMVE) that supports trucking training and education for military veterans and their families. “I’m doing what I always wanted to do and having the best time of my life.”

Owner of her own Freightliner Classic, Gaillard, 57, was immediately hired by Givens Inc., a transportation, warehousing and logistics company with locations in Seattle, South America and Chesapeake.

After her Marine discharge, Gaillard worked as an auto technician for decades but had been intrigued by trucks since childhood. A single parent, she began saving money to work toward her Career Studies Certificate in Truck Driving when she saw the information online about the grant. After the CMVE assisted her with the application process, she was accepted into the program.

“I was able to spend all the money I saved on living expenses and other things,” she said.

Gaillard completed the program in May 2015 and began her job within a week. She hauls everything from stereo equipment to automobile parts to baby wipes, rarely driving the same route twice.

“The freedom is the biggest thing for me,” she said. “I’m not stuck behind a desk or in a cubicle or in a garage like I was for 35 years. I’m out on the road. I get to see beautiful parts of the country that many may never see for free.”

For information on the Truck Driving program contact Matt Woods at mwoods@tcc.edu or call 757-822-2639.

Military Times ranks TCC best two-year school for vets in Virginia

Tidewater Community College was named the top two-year school in the Commonwealth by Military Times in its Best for Vets: Colleges 2020 rankings.

Best for Vets ranked TCC seventh overall among two-year institutions in the United States and No. 1 in Virginia.

“TCC is honored to be chosen again as a Best for Vets college,” said Batanya Gipson, interim director of TCC’s Center for Military and Veterans Education (CMVE). “Through our CMVE, we continue to work each day to serve the needs of our military-related students. In addition to providing excellent student support services, we work closely with military supportive business, industry and organizations to achieve our mission of facilitating educational and employability success. 

Military-focused offerings include:

  • A partnership between Virginia Natural Gas and TCC for a workforce development initiative that trains veterans and transitioning military to fill the growing need for skilled workers in the natural gas industry. The week-long program, offered at the Virginia Beach Campus, began in 2017.
  • The Machining Skills Certification, a SkillBridge-approved program that trains military-related students in computer numeric controlled (CNC) machinery from setup to operation. CNC machinists are in demand throughout Hampton Roads and the nation. Military-related students may also use their GI Bill benefits to pay for this program. Contact Chris Blow, project coordinator, at cblow@tcc.edu for information.

Military-related students make up about one-third of TCC’s enrollment. The statistics used for the Bets for Vets survey do not account for dependents.

The rankings are based on the results of Military Times’ annual survey — a comprehensive school-by-school assessment of veteran and military student services and rates of academic achievement — as well as a detailed review of public data collected by federal agencies. The survey asks colleges and universities to document a wide array of services, special rules, accommodations and financial incentives offered to students with military ties, and to describe many aspects of veteran culture on a campus.

Federal grant will help TCC train more vets for trucking careers

Tidewater Community College received a fifth federal grant to help train military veterans and their spouses for careers in trucking.

The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently awarded TCC an $88,435 grant, which will be administered by the college’s Center for Military and Veterans Education (CMVE).

“This grant has had a transformative effect on the lives of so many veterans and their families, while also addressing a dire need for licensed truck drivers in Hampton Roads,” said Batanya Gipson, interim executive director of the CMVE. “We are excited to have the ability to connect even more military-related students with this opportunity.”

In 2018, the trucking industry was short roughly 60,800 drivers, which was up nearly 20% from 2017’s figure of 50,700. If current trends hold, the shortage could swell to more than 160,000 by 2028. An increase in freight demand and baby boomer retirements contribute to the demand for truckers.

Navy veteran Richard Buddemeier earned his Career Studies Certificate in Truck Driving from TCC on a Friday in fall of 2016 and started training on his new job that Saturday. For the last two years, he’s driven for Southeast Connections. Thanks to the grant, he paid TCC no tuition to complete his certificate.

“I would not be where I am today without TCC,” he said. “The program is so in-depth, so easy to comprehend. The hands-on training was extremely helpful. The book learning was very important. What I learned made me the driver I am today.”

The FMCSA grant program aims to expand the number of truck drivers nationally by assisting active-duty, veterans, transitioning military and Department of Homeland Security members and their spouses to earn to a Commercial Driver’s License. TCC is one of 16 educational institutions that received funds from the $2 million federal grant to help train veterans for jobs as commercial bus and truck drivers.

Since TCC received its first grant in 2015, 183 veterans and spouses have enrolled in the program. Recipients of the grant pay nothing to complete the one-semester, 16-credit certificate. Classes are taught at the Center for Workforce Solutions on College Drive in northern Suffolk.

Contact Alesia Wroten, CMVE program coordinator, at awroten@tcc.edu or 757-822-7714, for information on qualifying for the grant program.