Two former Blackjewel miners have a new career path, thanks to a partnership between
Mountain Empire Community College and Regional Adult and Career Education. Greg Seals
and Rodney Tritt recently completed the CDL Road to Success in Virginia Program (RSVP), and
were among 7 successful course graduates.
MECC has been offering the CDL class since 2017, but this was the first RSVP cohort class. It
began this past summer at the Center for Workforce and Innovation of Appalachia (CWIA). The
course offered training in pre-trip inspection, parking procedures, and driving skills. Additional
course content in the classroom was provided by MECC’s cohort partner RACE1, and included
digital literacy training, basic computer skills, financial literacy, and work ethics.
Both Seals and Tritt were working as coal miners in Kentucky when, without notice, their
employer closed the mine and filed for bankruptcy. Additionally, the last paychecks the miners
received bounced, and left hundreds of displaced workers (including Seals and Tritt) without the
means to pay bills and provide for their families.
That’s when both men turned to MECC for help, and enrolled in the CDL RSVP course. The
grant-funded course also offered transportation assistance to the students, giving gas cards to
help offset the hour commute to class. Seals and Tritt excelled in the course, earning certificates
for financial and digital literacy, on top of completing requirements for the CDL training.
Focusing on the next steps in employment, the duo participated in interview prep and used
RSVP funds to purchase professional interview attire.
The successful outcomes from the program have been evident: Greg Seals chose to continue
with his education and enrolled in welding courses, on top of earning his CDL license, while
Rodney Tritt started his new career as a driver the day after his CDL completion.
Mallory Hill, MECC Education Support Specialist said, praised the RSVP cohort class and
partnership with RACE1. “This helped our students have a well rounded education. Not only did
they get the driving skills they needed, but they also gained additional skills through RACE1 that
ultimately makes them more employable because they now have extra skills”, said Hill.
Hill also explained the the RSVP cohort classes as great opportunities for students who have
not completed high school. “These classes give students exposure to life and work skills and
really gives them the opportunity for a better life – it really is a great asset to our region”.
The purpose of the RSVP is to help students with barriers to success (mainly non-academic),
such as trouble getting to class (the RSVP program can arrange for gas cards or bus pickup for
students), and help with child care. Students also have access to work with career coaches
through the program.
Additional MECC/RACE1 RSVP cohort classes are scheduled through the upcoming year. The
CNA cohort is running now and is a continuous offering. Construction and customer service
classes will be offered in the spring. For additional information about the classes, contact
Mallory Hill (276) 523-2400 (ext.758).