MTCC Trades Academies Graduates 20 and Helps Fill Construction Jobs

As a new cohort of graduates recently completed one of four Construction Trades Academies at McDowell Tech, local contractors and non-profit housing agencies were a primary beneficiary of the new skills and credentials earned by the graduates.

According to Construction Trades Coordinator Chris Saxton, about a third of the graduates have secured new jobs in one or more areas of the construction trades industry, while another third had already secured jobs before the class started and will continue to work with their employers at a more advanced level based on their new training. The final third are cross-training in another sub-field of construction or are taking more advanced training, both at McDowell Tech.

“We are proud that many of our graduates have already been employed by Gateway Wellness Foundation to continue a build-out of local low income housing projects that have been planned for McDowell County and other parts of Western North Carolina,” said Dr. Brian S. Merritt, President of McDowell Technical Community College. “Other graduates are working with companies like Deltec in Asheville, building panelized and round houses, impacting the local and regional housing workforce. This is a diverse class of graduates who will serve the local workforce well.”

During a ceremony on December 2, approximately 20 students graduated from programs in general Construction Trades, Level 1 Plumbing, Residential Electricity and Level 1 HVAC—Refrigeration. One student, Abraham Ayala Cisneros, completed three of the academies this fall. “He is a good student and a hard worker,” said Saxton, who also teaches in the Construction Trades Academies. In fact, Saxton, who does a limited number of construction projects outside of his college job, hired Cisneros to help him complete various independent construction projects.

Jaime Rodriguez, one of the students graduating from the Construction Trades Academy, was one of two guest speakers for the graduation. Don Ramsey, an MTCC Trustee who also works for Gateway Wellness Foundation, was the second speaker. Ramsey is intimately involved in recruiting students and graduates to work in low-income housing projects for the foundation and has himself taken classes in the Construction Trades Academy. Over the years, Ramsey has also done housing repair projects for elderly and disabled individuals throughout the county through his church.

Bridget Burnette, an Adult High School Instructor at McDowell Tech who also coordinates the college’s Integrated English Literacy and Civics Education program, closed the ceremony with her remarks. “Bridget is a very important part of our Construction Trades Programs,” said Saxton. “Due to our partnership with Centro Unido Latino Americano (CULA), we have had strong interest in our Construction Trades programs from the local Latino community. Bridget works closely with these students to make sure that they are getting the English literacy skills they need to be successful in our programs.”

“Moving forward, successful partnerships with organizations like CULA and Gateway Wellness Foundation help us serve students who were historically underserved and build regional capacity in the local and regional housing workforce. Our Construction Trades graduates can secure jobs with family-sustaining wages and continue their construction trades training in a step-wise fashion, according to their interests and abilities,” said Merritt, the MTCC President. “Assisting Gateway with the development of affordable housing and leading the growth and maturation of the local workforce will reap additional rewards for the local economy, all of which are part of our strategic vision and mission at McDowell Tech.”

The following students graduated from one or more of the Construction Trades Academies on December 2:

Construction Trades Academy

Mayolo Telles

Abraham Ayala Cisneros

Rickey Green

Jaime Rodriguez

Jakob Mironova


Plumbing Level I

Abraham Ayala Cisneros

Brandon Smith

Hector Gomez

Ricardo Romero


Intro to Residential Electricity

Joshua Anderson

Jareth Johnson

Mark Smith

Terry Gordon

Ivan Garcia

Abraham Ayala Cisneros


HVAC Level I-Intro to Refrigeration

Kenneth Bailey

Jeremy Cable

Carlo DeAngelus

Eliseo Guerrero

Armando Melchor Solano

Anthony Millici