Among January’s graduating class of 126 students, 8 held the distinction of being the first Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration program graduates to walk across the stage to claim their degrees.
The 88-graduates who participated in the ceremony held at the Rancho Community Church, finalized their career training goals in front of 1,200 friends and families gathered to witness the ceremony and celebration of their education accomplishment.
When the HVAC-R’s small class of eight students began their studies in this debut program in the fall of 2012, this moment was still a hazy vision in their mind’s eye.
“The first day of class our group of guys looked at each other not knowing what to expect,” says Joseph Weaver, who was part of that original program and a Student Speaker at graduation. “But, standing there in cap and gown, we weren’t newbies anymore.”
Joseph was excited to address the nearly-filled room and share his story of success, as well as his pride in helping “lay the groundwork for the HVAC-R students” to follow. Joseph, who started his new job with Gilmore Refrigeration the Monday after his program’s last class, felt his hard work paid off.
“I found a place to land right after I finished the program,” says Joseph. “Before graduation we were standing in the hallway, talking with our teachers about our jobs and what we had learned that we were already using.”
Most of his classmates worked full-time while they were in the program, and took special pride in their accomplishment.
SJVC’s 14-month Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration program is offered on several of the other campuses and was felt to be a perfect fit for the Temecula area.
“Our campus’s central location and climate make us ideal for guys wanting to get into this field and employers looking for technicians who can handle both commercial and residential systems and equipment,” says Anthony Melgares, HVAC-R instructor at the Temecula campus. He emphasizes that this is a good business for females to get into, as well, as “the job doesn’t require lifting heavy equipment; that is done by equipment installers.”
HVAC-R graduates left the graduation stage that night feeling the full confidence their A.S. degree and newly acquired skills and knowledge gave them.
“The best part about it is they come out of it with a degree that puts them up for leadership and supervisory roles, and sets them up for advancement in this field,” says Melgares. “These students were very motivated; and they were very proud and deserved to be proud.”
The HVAC-R program is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing on campus. Nearly 40 students are enrolled and working toward successful completion. Not surprisingly, many currently in the enrollment process were at that recent graduation ceremony and were inspired to strive for their own career in this field – and their moment on that stage.