5 local vocational students move from classroom to workforce

Hunter Haney, Brandon Satterthwaite and Matt Caley (from left) are graduating precision machining students from Huntington North High School who have obtained permanent full-time employment at Micropulse Inc. in Columbia City.
Hunter Haney, Brandon Satterthwaite and Matt Caley (from left) are graduating precision machining students from Huntington North High School who have obtained permanent full-time employment at Micropulse Inc. in Columbia City. Photo by Lauren M. Wilson.

Originally published June 6, 2013.

The 2013 graduating class from Huntington North High School will receive their diplomas tomorrow, June 7, and its members will begin new chapters of their lives.

Some will move away, and some will stay at home; some will attend a four-year university, while others will attend community college; and a few will report to a branch of the armed forces.

Five vocational students, however, will enter, or continue working in, the full-time workforce - and be able to support themselves in this struggling economy.

They are Karlie Crago, a graduate of Tiffaney Drummond's certified nursing assistant (CNA) program and Rick Uecker's emergency medical technician (EMT) program; Trevor Fettinger, of the CNA program; and Brandon Satterthwaite, Matt Caley and Hunter Haney, of Mick Jarrett's precision machining program.

Crago, the CNA and EMT grad, has been employed full time by The Heritage of Huntington since June 2, 2012.
She works as a CNA, and received the offer for employment after earning her CNA certification during her junior year of high school.

She says that on her salary, she could support herself living on her own.

In the year that she has been employed at The Heritage, she says she has received three raises.

But the workplace is different than the classroom, she says.

"Even doing clinicals is a lot different than actually doing the job and working full-time," Crago says.

While working, she has continued to attend high school full time, attending the EMT program in the morning and carrying a regular class load in the afternoon.

After school, she says, she has 15 minutes to get to work and sometimes she works as many as nine days in a row.

"I almost think we (CNAs) don't get the recognition we deserve," she says.

"There have been times I worked a double on a school night, working until 6 a.m. and then coming to school at 7:30 a.m.," she says.

Yet, all the while, she says she has maintained her grades well enough to be named on the A-B honor roll.

In the fall, she will attend college full time at Ivy Tech to earn not only her licensed practical nursing degree, but also a surgical technician certification.

"I've tried really hard to partner with our long-term care facilities," says Drummond,

"The most common situation I have is students going on to college and they work as a CNA while they are in school for nursing, radiology or physical therapy."

Fettinger, who recently obtained his CNA license, will continue local employment after graduation. He is currently working at PHD in general maintenance. He plans to continue working there until he finds a job with his newly acquired CNA license.

Drummond says her students completed their CNA testing just two weeks ago, and already Fettinger has applied for a job as a direct support personnel for mentally handicapped individuals. At press time he was waiting to hear back from the company with a job offer.

"Trevor has awesome skills ... some of the strongest I've seen," says Drummond.

"I want to do something in the medical field that I can help people with," Fettinger says. "I was skeptical (of the CNA program) at first, but I like it."

In the fall, he says he hopes to continue working in the medical field and attend Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) to take core classes towards a doctorate in physical therapy. He hopes to earn his doctorate after transferring from IPFW to Indiana University.

On June 10, the Monday after graduation, machining students Satterthwaite, Caley and Haney will report to Micropulse Incorporated in Columbia City to begin their permanent, full-time employment with the company.

"Micropulse has a reputation of paying good money, and they don't have a lot of turnover because their employees like it and they stay there," says Jarrett.

The students were selected for employment after attending a precision machining competition held in conjunction with South Adams High School, where potential employers were able to collect resumes from the students.

Out of all the students who handed in resumes, Satterthwaite, Caley and Haney were selected for hire by the company that manufactures replacement joints for the medical industry.

Each of the students has a different level of experience with machining.

"The biggest thing industry tells us ... they don't want their employees to have been out 10 years working somewhere else. They want them young so they can train them how they want them to be trained," says Jarrett.

Satterthwaite, a two-year student in the precision machining program, was named Best in State at the SkillsUSA competition in May, and he will compete in the national SkillsUSA competition in June.

Caley is also a two-year student in the program, and Haney is a first-year student.

At Micropulse, they will be working on $125,000 machines, says Jarrett.

The job will pay just a few dollars less per hour than the national median pay for precision machinists, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics.

The students say they will also receive insurance, 401K and vacation time.

To start, they will train for four weeks, and then work on second or third shift, eventually working independently in all-around machining.

Satterthwaite says he was planning on having a career in the machining field, but he didn't think it would happen right away.

Each of the young men will be able to support himself on his own, if he so chooses.

Satterthwaite says he plans to attend Ivy Tech Community College to study machine tool technology, while living with his father.

Caley says he will live in Huntington with his brothers, and Haney says eventually he will move in with his friends after graduation.