Meet Sandra Brown
With her teenage son starring for the “Fighting Scots”, this year’s North Carolina high school football state champions, Sandra Brown was not to be outdone and thus joined the Lumber River Workforce Development, “Green Team”, a training program funded by the State Energy Sector Partnership grant. This Laurinburg, Scotland County resident continued her life’s journey as she grew in her natural passion of caring for our Earth by building upon what she already learned with a recent Associate of Arts degree in Landscaping from Sandhills Community College in Raeford, NC. Sandra is not your typical solar technician.
A New York transplant, Sandra was referred to the program on February 16, 2012 by Laurinburg’s own Main Street hotdog vendor, Mr. Reggie. For it was just days earlier, Mr. Reggie had been “SESP” proselytized by the Green Construction Project Coordinator, Robert Macy. Robert had shared with the high-volume, social media outlet, street chef, about the regional opportunities for local residents in the renewable energy field.
During the initial interview, Sandra met and shared with her case manager, Robert Macy, the challenges of being a single mom raising a high school football star. “He eats a lot” according to his proud mom. Even after earning a college degree, it was not enough leverage to win a job in a local economy that is struggling with unemployment rates beyond 16 percent.
Sandra had applied for so many jobs and companies, she lost track of how many days she has spent traveling for just the opportunity to interview. What she did know, is that she was still unemployed, had bills and her son is still growing! The first step in Sandra’s journey with her case manager was to conduct an inventory of her skills, talents, and most of all, identify her passion. From this first meeting, Sandra and Robert created an Individual Service Strategy Plan, road mapping a realistic path for a new career in the renewable energy construction field. It became evident that staying outdoors, close to nature, is where this participant was called to be.
Along with twenty-two other students, Sandra attended and completed a second Human Resource Development course. Sandra polished her resume and interviewing skills, learned basic solar terms and applications, completed multiple assessments (including the Career Readiness Certificate/Work Keys), and built lasting personal and professional bonds within the industry.
Sandra was one of the approximately 130 job seekers during the March 21st Strata Solar job fair in Maxton, NC, which was coordinated by the Lumber River Workforce Development “Green Team.” With limited construction experience, she was hired as an entry-level Array Builder, making $11 per hour. Today, Sandra has completed her 400-hour on-the-job training plan, learning invaluable skills as a commercial solar installer that will translate well for future opportunities. In addition to having been promoted from installer to assistant crew lead installer, Sandra was selected above all other hires to manage the site’s valuable tool room. With her new responsibilities, she is now making $14 per hour. With more local solar projects on the books for Strata, Sandra’s future is looking pretty bright.