Impressed by CTE Programs, HVAC-R Professional Steps on to Community College Track

While growing up in North Carolina, Bruce Perry spent hours hanging out with his Uncle Willie Parker Jr., repairing tractors, lawn mowers, and various other vehicles. It might have seemed like normal boyhood fun to Bruce, but as the Ball State graduate student now understands, he was doing some serious job shadowing with his late uncle.

“His mentorship, abilities, education, skill, wisdom, knowledge, and understanding influenced me greatly,” recalls Bruce, of Uncle Willie’s career influence.

Bruce had the opportunity to perform multiple building trades and construction under the watchful eyes of this family mentor.

Today Bruce is an HVAC-R Service Technician with more than 20 years’ experience in maintenance and operations for school districts and casinos. He lives in southern California and is pursuing Ball State’s online master’s degree in career and technical education.

Needed Challenge After Earning Bachelor’s

Bruce was finishing his bachelor’s in career and technical studies at California State University-San Bernardino (CSUSB) in 2019, when he decided to enhance his personal development, complement his skills and experience—and give himself a challenge.

He began by comparing other graduate programs to CSUSB.

“When I saw Ball State’s CTE graduate programs, I saw many technical and practical programs that would complement my skillset and work experience,” says Bruce.

“I chose the community college and industrial trainer’s track because I like teaching, learning, helping students, and encouraging them to constantly learn in practical ways that will help them succeed in life and the workplace.”

Outstanding Instructors Inspired Him to Teach

While working as a senior heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanic for Desert Community College in Palm Desert, California, Bruce earned associate of arts and associate of science degrees.

“I was inspired by good instructors to teach,” he says. Bruce has also been inspired by Ball State professors Edward Lazaros, Dr. Allen Truell, and Richard Seymour. “I’ve had excellent Q&A sessions with my professors.”

Technology Discoveries Have Been Highlight

Other highlights of the CTE program for Bruce have included learning the history of career and technical education, discovering how technology can improve teaching and workplace productivity, and using interactive space to interact academically and socially with classmates in a collaborating environment.

Bruce plans to finish classes by summer of 2021 and then make the cross country journey to campus to receive his degree.

After graduating from Ball State’s CTE program, Bruce hopes to once again be on the job and in the classroom: “My motivation is to be an engineering director of a facility and teach at a community college as a HVAC-R instructor.”

CTE Graduate Takes Career Planning to the Township

On January 2, 2019, Annette Johnson took her educator skills to the Pike Township Trustees Office.

A 2016 graduate of the Ball State University’s master’s degree in career and technical education (CTE), Annette Johnson was elected trustee in November, 2018, after working in the classroom for nearly 20 years.

While filling positions for the Marion County Sheriff Department, the Indiana State Department of Education, and Indianapolis Public Schools, she was also engaged in grass roots politics, directing campaigns for local candidates while also campaigning for her own.

But She Wanted to Do More

“I knew I wanted to do much more, and to do that I had to set my sights on higher office,” says Annette, a life-long community advocate.

Earlier in her career, she had set her sights on the adult and career education classroom.

She chose the teacher track of Ball State’s CTE master’s, which is offered fully online, thinking she would eventually teach in a technical, trade, or business school, and, ultimately, at a community college.

Online Format Fit Her Full Life

Because of her full schedule in both education and community service, the online delivery of the program had real appeal.

“It also seemed like it was designed to help you achieve your professional goals as quickly as possible,” says Annette of the 30-hour CTE program, which requires no thesis.

“I always wanted to work with students of diverse backgrounds and needs,” she says.

Instructor for Sheriff’s Department

Soon after earning her master’s, that wish came true when she was named senior adult education instructor for the Marion County Sheriff Department. There she worked with male and female inmates housed at the Marion County Jail, providing weekly instruction for GED test preparation.

“I had a high success rate,” she says. “It was an awesome job.”

Annette used the opportunity to share information about adult education programs that her students could use after their release date.

A Trustee Who Teaches the Township

Since being sworn in as trustee, she has continued to teach her township about career and technical education.

“As a trustee I come in contact with people who are having hardships and seeking better employment,” she says. “With my community connections, I am able to be a resource with employment information in the area of CTE.”

Her trustee role also gives her responsibility for the Pike Township Fire Department. The fire department partners with her in a program introducing high schoolers to the public safety careers of emergency medical technicians, paramedics, firefighters, and police officers.

Partnerships Build Opportunities

“In order to build opportunities for students and local industry,” she says, “the efforts of workforce development, economic development, and education must work hand in hand.”

Annette also has master’s degrees in adult and community education as well as executive development and public service though Ball State Online.

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