Northeastern Technical College alumnus Chad Hood of Summerville, S.C., is a former Marine, rides a Harley Davidson motorcycle, has his fair share of tattoos, talks loud, has an opinion on everything and leaves an unforgettable impression on everyone he meets. Including his former instructors at the College.
One instructor, now retired, Tom Wood remembers Hood for his deep convictions and his ability to "speak at an elevated level." But he also remembers Hood for his motivation and aptitude as a student in the industrial electronics program. Wood sought out the Marlboro County High School graduate because he knew Hood would have the necessary skills and dedication to complete the program.
"Chad was a very dedicated and conscientious student. For him, failure was not an option," Wood said. "When I was teaching at the College, I actively recruited students for the program who demonstrated the right stuff including good reading comprehension levels and above average math skills. They needed to be well rounded students and Chad had all the right stuff."
Hood, a Wallace native, enrolled in the industrial electronics program in 1992 when the College was known as Chesterfield-Marlboro Technical College. He left school, however, to enlist in the Marines in the spring of 1993.
In the Marines, he received training in telecommunications and was stationed in multiple places including Japan, California, Texas and Kosovo for peacekeeping operations before he was honorably discharged in 2001. He came back home to plan his next move.
"I wanted to further my education and work toward a four-year engineering degree, so I enrolled again in Northeastern Technical College," Hood said. "It was close to home and a good place to start. Plus, my father was having health problems and needed help running his pawn shop in Cheraw, so having the College right here was convenient."
Wood welcomed Hood back into the program and wanted to help him achieve his educational and career goals.
"Because I knew the kind of student he was, I was glad to have Chad back at the College and in the industrial electronics program, which would properly prepare him to enter the work force at a high entry level position or prepare him for transfer to a four-year institution," Wood said.
During his final semester of classes, Hood applied for a position with a government contractor installing communication systems on nuclear submarines. He used Wood, who had retired from a military career in the Navy, as a reference. He was selected for the position over numerous candidates.
"I had a job pending that I wasn't going to let slip by, so I had to cram all my class work into just a few weeks to get it all done," Hood said. "Tom Wood and all my instructors worked with me to help make that happen."
Hood said he also received guidance from his former instructor when it came to the choice of taking a job or continuing his education beyond the associate's degree.
"The military paid for my tuition and books and provided me with a small stipend while I was in school, but I was just scraping by. I focused on what would make me more employable: the two-year degree or the four-year degree? When it came down to it, the associate's degree landed me a good-paying job right when I needed one," Hood said. "I took a lot of classes at NETC that will transfer, so if I ever decide to complete a four-year degree, I'm well on my way."
Hood graduated from NETC in 2005 with an Associate of Industrial Technology degree. He is now working as a telephone company lineman and enjoys the work.
"I was hired by BellSouth and now work for AT&T splicing fiber optic cable and maintaining communication systems," Hood said, adding that even though it's not unusual for him to work until midnight, not stopping for lunch or dinner, he enjoys knowing that he is working hard to maintain connectivity for the world to communicate.
When Hood's not driving around in his bucket truck, he's logging in hours on his Harley, often making the drive back home to see family and friends.
"I'm the first in my family to go to college," Hood said. "I may not look like your typical college graduate, but you have to be educated to get a job. And if you live in Chesterfield, Marlboro or Dillon counties and you're having a hard time finding work, there's no reason not to start your education at Northeastern Technical College."
Tags: High Skills
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