Layoff leads to new path

It’s not easy starting something new.  Ron Hedrick was recently laid off after nearly 30 years at the Rolls Royce plant in Mount Vernon.  He knew his next step was to get an education.

Immediately after high school, Hedrick went into the workforce.  When the announcement came that the plant would be closing, he needed to find another path.  That is when he chose North Central State College.  “With my background working in the auto industry, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in business management.

“My history and 28 years of working on the floor at an auto plant just transferred over into the business atmosphere,” he says.  “The classes I am taking are formulated based on what the business needs are for the community.  Whatever I am learning in the classroom today, I can take out to the marketplace tomorrow and become successful.”

On his first day, he sat excitedly in his first class.  What happened next still makes him laugh, “I was sitting there dressed up, just as an old-style student used to go to class the first day.  Then more students began to walk into class.  You could imagine my surprise when they turned to me and asked if they had assigned seats.  They thought I was the instructor.”

However, Hedrick did not blame them and was not surprised.  “I never thought I would be a 50-year-old man returning to college after being in the workforce,” he explained.  “I pretty much saw the first building put up on campus.”

“The atmosphere at NC State is awesome,” Hedrick said.  “The faculty, students, and leadership are all about helping others hone their skills.  So when we go into the community we can be successful within any job we find.”

He says his favorite role model is English associate professor Beth Franz.  “The first essay that I wrote for her class, there was more red ink on it than I had pencil on the paper,” Hedrick laughs.  “However, her support and dedication allowed me to be successful.”

With the help of Franz and other instructors, Hedrick says he was able to make his goal of being named to the dean’s list.  He also belongs to the two honor societies at the college as well as TRIO student support services.

Hedrick says his biggest accomplishment is yet to come.  “The greatest opportunity is to be a part of this upcoming graduating class,” he exclaims.  “I’ve created so many friendships.  The students that attend this college have a purpose; to grow and make our community better off from what was yesterday to today.”

Hedrick plans to walk across the stage to get his diploma this May.