Tanner Boyd was like most of his peers in his teens. He had a vague idea that he wanted to stay in Beaufort County, but he had no clue what he could do as a career. The homeschooled student knew that he would get lost at a larger institution. He did what all prudent people do when making a big decision: he asked for a free sample. Boyd took a mechanical engineering class at Beaufort County Community College through the Career and College Promise (CCP) program, and his future became clear.
Boyd had an upbringing that was similar to a lot of students in BCCC’s service area. Being homeschooled, he was used to personal attention. In his homeschool group TEACH, The Eastern Association of Christian Homeschools, he learned alongside other students, including some who are now classmates at the college.
His mother stayed at home to help with his education. His father worked at Thermo Fisher Scientific in Greenville as a production supervisor. His older siblings both attended BCCC. Boyd describes himself as a “down home country boy” with a love for the outdoors, including hunting and fishing. He played baseball until a serious back injury sidelined him.
“Fields, farms, having fun” he lists as reasons to stay put. “I don’t like cities; I like being home.”
Students like Boyd tend to excel at BCCC because they get to stay in the environment in which they grew up, and, with some of them coming from graduating classes of a few dozen people, they get the personal attention they are accustomed to.
“I knew I didn’t want to start off at a four-college,” says Boyd, “but, honestly, I didn’t know what I wanted to do.”
Career and College Promise is a state-wide dual-enrollment program where high school juniors and seniors can take classes at community colleges for free. Depending on the program they choose, they may even get textbooks covered. Students must choose no more than two workforce, technical, or college transfer pathways.
His choice was inspired by Matthew Lincoln, the lead instructor for mechanical engineering technology.
“The way he carried himself. How at home he made me feel. How knowledgeable he was about everything,” lists Boyd. “It made me feel like I could learn something from him.”
After he graduates, Boyd thinks he will work for a few years as a machinist, after which he may complete a bachelor’s degree online at East Carolina University, working in drafting later.
He is not afraid of automation because he is learning how to program along with how to machine parts. “Even if [companies] don’t need a machinist, they’re going to need someone to tell that machine what to do. Those machines are smart, but they’re not that smart. I’m not worried about it. We learn the guys-upstairs’ job, and the guys-on-the-floor’s.”
“Mr. Lincoln always tells us, ‘Mistakes need to be made in here, not out there; so every time you mess up — plus five,'” says Boyd with a chuckle.
Boyd took a chance on mechanical engineering through CCP, though it clearly has not been a mistake. “I like what I do, and I know I want to do it,” he says with a conviction that he has gained through his program.
Editor’s note: This perspective was first published by Beaufort Community College. It has been posted with the author’s permission.Community Colleges NC Perspective