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TCC degree opens doors for new graduate

Justin McDanielJustin McDaniel drives a sweet ride. It’s a 2013 Hyundai Veloster, a sporty, black vehicle that he bought himself for graduation.

“I feel like I’m on top of the world,” McDaniel says. “After two years at TCC, I have a set career path and a full-time job.”

McDaniel graduates May 8 with an Associate degree in Electromechanical Controls Technology. While at Tidewater Community College, McDaniel landed a paid internship with Hampton Roads Sanitation District. Recently, he parlayed the internship into a full-time position with benefits, vacation time and tuition reimbursement for further education.

“I owe this success to the opportunities I received at TCC,” McDaniel says.

A 2011 graduate of Hickory High School, McDaniel was unsure of his career path until he attended an open house at TCC. That’s where he met Thomas Stout, program head for Electromechanical Controls Technology. “I’ve always been interested in electronics and machines, and during high school, I participated in a program where we built robots with motors,” McDaniel says. “This program seemed like a good fit.”

McDaniel, a CIBA Foundation scholarship recipient, learned the value of quality studying at TCC. “In high school, it was about doing assignments. Here, it’s been about gaining a real understanding of the material,” he explains. “I’ve learned to open a textbook and study for comprehension.

“The faculty has been great, with most coming from the workforce,” McDaniel adds. “So we are learning with real-world perspectives that move well beyond the textbooks.”

The hands-on laboratories added to McDaniel’s experience. “The labs are fully equipped and safe, and for me, this is where the rubber met the road, and everything came together.”

On the job, McDaniel says he feels as if he’s joined a family. “The people are so supportive, and the work is challenging with a wide-ranging focus from machine calibrations to network programming.”

McDaniel plans to pursue a bachelor’s in electronic engineering and computer engineering and a master’s in engineering management from Old Dominion University.

“I’m TCC’s biggest fan,” McDaniel says. “I tell my peers that with the right mindset and work ethic, you really can go anywhere.”

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