Sam Pittsenbarger said going to college had always been in his plans.
He also knew he wanted to enter a career that combined his love of a hands-on environment with being a problem-solver, and he felt that becoming a vehicle technician was a good fit for him.
Gateway Technical College helped Sam to do that — in more ways than one.
“I’ve met new friends, some great instructors and have a new career,” says Sam, who earned his associate degree in Diesel Technology. “I know employers in this area look to Gateway for who they are going to hire.
“I didn’t feel like I was just going to college. Gateway is a part of me. It’s an amazing place.”
The college’s Promise program provided Sam with the finances and resources to begin and complete his education quickly, and the college provided him with the training and industry connections to help him enter his career.
Gateway provides the training, opportunities
Sam was initially hired part-time at an area trucking firm, and it was there that he realized he liked the career field — but he saw that he needed training to succeed in it.
“I knew no one would hire me full-time without experience and training,” says Sam.
“My instructors were great, and I learned a lot — a lot more than I thought I ever would. I worked part-time and used what I learned in the classroom at my job every day.”
The COVID-19 pandemic hit, though, and Sam was laid off from that part-time job. He mentioned that to his instructors, and they pointed him toward another area company, which hired him — and where he continues to work today.
“I’m very grateful that they helped me. I love it where I work,” says Sam.
He works as a service writer, using a mixture of the hands-on and technological training he learned at Gateway.
Sam says Gateway’s curriculum and training equipment mimics what’s used in industry today — and tomorrow.
“Gateway has done a great job of keeping current with technology,” says Sam. “So much of the industry is electronic and computer today, and Gateway provides you the training needed for that.
“For instance, in my last semester I was trained on Snap-on diagnostic scanners. It was great to have that knowledge going into my career.”
Sam says Gateway’s curriculum also provides a solid background and information through lecture and book studies.
“I realize book learning isn’t always something people like, but having it has helped me a lot at my current job,” he says. “When you have to write up work orders and create and write documents, you need to have that solid knowledge.”
Promise program provides resources
But the training and career might still be in the works if it weren’t for Sam being accepted into Gateway’s Promise program. The program provides finances and wraparound student support services for those who qualify.
“The Promise program was amazing. It helped me financially, because I was a little short on being able to start college when I did,” says Sam.
“What I also really liked was that, through the program, they are able to help you find helpers and tutors and have activities where you are able to connect in college.
“I have a very high opinion about Gateway. I carry this college with pride.”