GORGAS — A group of Bevill State Community College students received a rare opportunity recently.
The students, members of the Second Opportunity System, took a tour of Alabama Power’s Gorgas Steam Plant last week. They heard from employees from Alabama Power who shared how they became employed by the utility company.
Sandi Sudduth, SOS career coach for Walker County, said the trip was a great benefit to her students.
“I thought it was excellent,” she said. “They really laid out the red carpet for us. The people from Alabama Power were very receptive to the students, and I think that added to the excitement.”
The SOS program is to help out-of-school youth ages 16 to 21 gain the skills and knowledge needed to become successful adults capable of securing and retaining employment. SOS counselors assist students who meet the program’s eligibility requirements in receiving career assessment guidance, leadership development and referral services.
“I feel like SOS has been very successful,” Sudduth said. “We started in 2002, and we’ve had a great percentage of our students to graduate from Bevill State and receive good jobs. We’ve also seen several students go on to four-year universities.”
Many students involved with SOS have dropped out of high school and have received their general education diploma or are in the process of preparing for the GED. Alabama Power’s Charley Vest said those students should be commended for continuing their education.
“It’s tough to get the GED,” he said. “Students who get the GED are typically people who know the importance of an education. They are also typically very motivated and hard workers. Those are the kind of people that Alabama Power likes to employ.”
Billy Rex, a 2009 Parrish High graduate and freshman at Bevill State, said he felt the tour of Plant Gorgas would be beneficial to anyone.
“I thought it was very interesting,” said Rex, a member of the SOS program and a computer science major. “I’m planning on going straight to the job force from Bevill State and much of what was said at Alabama Power interested me. It’s good to know how stable their jobs are and how long you could work there. The company has a lot of opportunities.”
Bevill State president Anne McNutt also spoke to the students during their trip to Plant Gorgas.
“Not a lot of students get to see the inside of a power plant,” she said. “You are seeing the inner workings to something that is vitally important to our community. I urge you students to work hard and be prepared for the future with the right background in math and science. We appreciate Alabama Power hosting us today and appreciate the relationship the company has built with Bevill State.”
Sudduth said SOS takes two trips per program year similar to the Gorgas trip.
The group also has small seminars where people are invited to come speak on a variety of topics.
“We have people come in and speak on life issues as well as job training,” she said. “We’ve had people talk to the students on the importance of insurance and on things like living a healthy lifestyle. We also try to take the students to as many job fairs and college fairs as possible.”
For more information on the SOS program or to see eligibility requirements, visit www.bscc.edu/community/sos.php.