When Victor Melgar reflects on his apprenticeship experience and what brought him to this point, he realizes that he wouldn’t be where he is today without a few very special people.
First, his family comes to mind.
“My father passed away when I was young, and my mother, Maria, worked hard to provide a good life for me,” Victor shared. “Now, I’m working as a role model to my three sisters.”
In middle school, Victor was positively influenced by his math teacher, Mr. Brown.
“He challenged me to grow in my education.”
Mr. Brown has since passed away, but Victor says he still uses the lessons he learned from him today.
“She became like a second mother to me,” he explained.
Victor applied for a spot with the Career Accelerator Program during his junior year but did not get accepted into the program. He persevered, tried again during his senior year, and landed a position with IntraPac Mebane as an apprentice focused on machine maintenance.
Now, Victor has an entire team of people to inspire him daily at work.
“My company has trusted me to work on expensive machinery and empowered me to do well,” he said. “I am a hands-on person and this program is allowing me to get hands-on work experience with pay while being educated for free.”
Victor had always considered going to community college after high school to learn about diesel technology and heavy machinery — but he never thought that education would be completely paid for, or that he would be learning a wide variety of trades in a real-world context.
“Right now, I’m working in maintenance; whatever machine breaks down or needs to be fixed, I work on them,” he explained. “I’ve taken a welding class through my company and hope to continue learning other trades such as HVAC, electrical, and plumbing.”
Victor says this well-rounded knowledge base will allow him to contribute in a variety of different areas at work.
“This program gives you everything you would want from a college experience,” he said. “I am working alongside people who have been doing what I want to do for years, and they are gracious to allow me to learn alongside them.”
In addition to working and studying, Victor is now giving back by helping other interns and apprentices in his company. His firsthand experience motivates him to let students know that they can go far in this program.
“If you want to gain experience and education, do this program.”