Calhoun’s Lineworker Program Makes History with First Female Graduates
In April 2021, Calhoun Community College received a grant from The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham to afford females the opportunity to participate in the College’s Pre-Apprentice Lineworker Program. On Friday, August 13, 8:00 am, Calhoun will graduate the first female to complete the program under the women’s recruiting initiative. The ceremony will also feature a Lineworker Rodeo, which will be held at the pole yard across from Calhoun’s Decatur Campus at the intersection of Highway 31 North and Sandy Road.
In an industry that has been,,,
...historically dominated by males, that is not the case anymore. Massie Calvin is the first female to complete requirements for the Pre-Apprentice Lineworker Program under new recruiting efforts. “To say this program is tough is an understatement,” commented Calvin. “When I joined the program, I was told one of the toughest weeks of training is known as “Hell Week,” and boy did I quickly understand how it received that name,” said Calvin. During this week, students are required to climb 40-foot poles, which include basketball drills once they reach the top, climb an 80-foot pole at least 10 times, and rescue a hurt worker weighing about 150 lbs. at the top of a 20-foot pole in under 3 minutes. “Typically in the first week of climbing, students climb two 40-foot poles to get comfortable with not only the height of the poles, but also learning to maneuver up and down them while wearing their lineworker gear,” commented Mike Lowery, Calhoun Pre-Apprentice Lineworker Instructor. “Massie, with no fear at all, boldly asked her instructor if she could climb the 80-foot pole instead.
He looked at her in shock as that is not a typical request for students who have never worked in this field before, but he allowed her to do so. Not only did she successfully climb the pole, but she was the first one in the program to climb it. At that moment the instructors knew, she was a hard worker,” said Lowery.
A mother of two sons ages 2 and 5, the Jemison, AL native is the epitome of tough. “Not only did she do an amazing job completing the grueling days of training in the blazing heat and rain, but she leaves the pole yard to begin her second shift as a mom, which is just as demanding if not harder,” commented Houston Blackwood, Calhoun’s Director of Workforce Solutions. As the granddaughter of a retired Lineman, Massie knows exactly what she is signing up for and is ready for the long, hard hours. To ensure she had no obstacles in her way, she resigned from her job to focus on the Lineworker Program, which is the gateway to her dream of becoming a lineworker.
Calhoun Community College alongside TVA, Decatur, and Huntsville Utilities will allow spectators to watch the students compete in the Lineworker Rodeo. Students will rotate through multiple stations and compete against one another. They will be judged based on their technical and soft skills, as well as a free-climb up a 75-foot pole using spikes, ropes, and a safety harness.
The program was structured with input from the Tennessee Valley Public Power Association (TVPPA) Apprentice program, regional and statewide utilities, cooperatives, and electric contractors, along with best practices from other lineworker training programs. The seven-week program is offered regionally and is based on industry needs and demand. In addition to the lineworker training, students completing the program also receive OSHA 10-hour safety training, First Aid/CPR Certification, and a Commercial Driver's License (CDL).
For more information on Calhoun’s Lineworker program, call Houston Blackwood at (256) 306-2664 or email email@example.com.
All media inquiries should contact Calhoun’s Public Relations Team at 256-306-2560 or 256-306-2965.
NEWS RELEASE CORRECTION 8-11-21 6:00PM
Late this evening we learned that another female student, Jessica Massey, graduated from the Calhoun Community College Lineworker Program in 2013. Calhoun Community College launched a new initiative earlier this year (2021) aimed at recruiting women to the Lineworker Program. Massie Calvin is the first female to graduate from the program under the Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham Initiative. We are proud of both graduates and glad to set the record straight.
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