Capital District Educational Opportunity Center (EOC)
a division of Hudson Valley Community College
Success Stories - Technical Programs

Building Trades

Charles Tucker

Graduated: 1966

Retired Electrician Starts Career at EOC

"[The program] gave me lifetime work that allowed me to work all over the country with a wonderful salary." Charles Tucker

Charles Tucker graduated from the first Capital District Educational Opportunity Center class in 1966, completing the automotive program. After working for five years at Ford Motor Company as a factory worker, he was contacted by his EOC counselor and friend Steven Smith to join a grant program from the Bush Foundation to train minorities as electricians and carpenters. Charles wanted a more challenging job that offered more pay, so he enrolled in the program, which was a cooperative effort between the EOC, then known as the Urban Center, and Troy Rehabilitation and Improvement Project.

Attending class work at the Urban Center, the majority of Charles’ day was spent renovating an inner city house that ultimately could be purchased by a family in the inner city. After its completion, he obtained a job in Electrician's Local #438. "The course changed my life," said Charles. "It gave me lifetime work that allowed me to work all over the country with a wonderful salary.” Charles retired comfortably after 29 years of employment, a result of his training at the EOC.


EOC Program(s):
Building Trades

Tonya Curtis

Graduated: 2005


EOC Program Provides Motivation
"As a result of my training at the EOC, I am ready to live the rest of my life as a positive person." Tonya Curtis

Still reeling from the separate murders of two of her siblings, behavioral issues ended Tonya Curtis’s first enrollment in the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center’s Building Trades Program in 2002. A new Tonya returned to the program in February 2005.

After her initial enrollment, Tonya obtained employment at Classic Sheds in Albany, and her on-the-job training gave her the motivation and determination to return to school with a new attitude. “By getting a job in the field and recognizing the hard work needed to succeed, Tonya did an about face and carried that positive attitude into the classroom,” said her instructor, Tom Glasser.

Upon her return, Tonya demonstrated her commitment through perfect attendance and by becoming a role model to her fellow students, a fact that is even more impressive in a predominantly male-dominated field. “No matter what life deals you, you need to surround yourself with positive people,” said Tonya. “As a result of my training at the EOC, I am now ready to live the rest of my life as that positive person.” She is currently employed by Uncle Sam's House, a not-for-profit group that rehabiliates houses in Albany County.


EOC Program(s):
Building Trades

Jeffrey Brooks

Graduated: 1984

Graduate Finds Career at EOC
“Jeff is always there to go above and beyond in his service to the EOC and its staff and students.” Dr. Lucille Marion

Jeffrey Brooks was laid off by Montgomery Wards when it closed in 1983. On unemployment, he came to the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center for retraining. Graduating from the Building Trades Program in 1984, Jeff was hired by the EOC as a building eminence worker. Sixteen years later, Jeff is responsible for all maintenance-related activities at both sites in Troy and Albany. Jeff was the recipient of the 1999 Hudson Valley Community College Meritorious Service Award. Dr. Lucille Marion, executive director of the EOC and vice present at Hudson Valley, stated, “Jeff is always there to go above and beyond in his service to the EOC and its staff and students.”


EOC Program(s):
Building Trades

Vyacheslav Teterin

Graduated: 2004

Uzbekistan Native Finds Success In Building Trades Program
His employer wishes there were more workers like Teterin.

The father of a 12 year-old child, and a native of Uzbekistan, Vyacheslav (Steve) Teterin entered the Building Trades Program with knowing little English. An excellent craftsman, Steve created great projects in the Building Trades Program. One of the projects, an intricately inlaid bowl, was submitted by the EOC at the 33rd Annual Legislative Conference for the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators. Steve was commended by Dr. Lucille Marion, executive director of the EOC and vice present at Hudson Valley Community college, for his “enthusiasm for craft and great attention to detail to create such a great piece.”

Steve completed the Building Trades Program with an “A” in both skill and effort. Through the EOC’s Employment Service, Steve was referred to Terminal Millwork, a manufacturer of fine cabinetry for universities and other customers, and Steve was promptly hired. After 90 days of employment, the owner determined that Steve deserved a raise for the “very good work” he was doing. Terminal Millwork management reported that Steve was “doing well, a hard worker who comes to work, and that he would like more workers like him!”


EOC Program(s):
Building Trades

Beverly Clementi

Graduated: 1993

Dislocated Worker Finds New Career in Construction
"The Life Skills Program showed me who I was and what I could become." Beverly Clementi

Beverly Clementi had been laid off from Playtex in Watervliet and was on unemployment for several months when she enrolled at the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center to undergo retraining. "My mother had gone to the EOC in the early 1980s, and I was proud of her," said Beverly. "As I had always been good with my hands, I decided to enroll in the Building Trades Program to learn how to be an electrician.”

Beverly found Joe Casey to be an excellent instructor who encouraged her to build on the skills that she had originally learned from her father, who had enjoyed maintaining their home. Beverly also learned a great deal from the Life Skills Program, which helped to "show me who I was and what I could become.” Upon Beverly’s graduation from the EOC in March 1993, she applied for the apprenticeship program at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 236. "I told them that I was going to be an electrician with them or without them," Beverly recalled with a laugh.

Her confidence combined with her acquired knowledge made her a welcome addition to Local 236. Beverly was one of a few women accepted by the Brotherhood, but the sense of pride and accomplishment she had developed through the EOC program prepared her with the confidence to handle the predominantly all-male environment. She has been employed at the Brotherhood for more than 14 years. One change she sees is that there are more women in the field. She loves her job and is grateful to the EOC for preparing her for success in her chosen field.


EOC Program(s):
Building Trades

Minerva Hernandez

Graduated: 1996

Displaced Worker Now Builds Bridges
A recent assignment included being part of the crew for the I-890 Bridge Project.

Minerva Hernandez worked for 10 years in Buffalo, for Vesuvia Manufacturers as a cement mixer machine operator. When she lost her job, she moved to the Capital District, where she heard about the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center through a friend. At the age of 47, she enrolled in the Building Trades Program, where her outstanding performance in the classroom made her a candidate for the Open Shop Association, a group of unionized and non-unionized workers.

Minerva participated in the Association’s Safety Training Program and was soon hired by Kubricky Construction as a general laborer. One of her assignments included being part of the crew for the I-890 Bridge Project, which was completed in October 1998, as well as bridges in Watervliet and the Catskills and a canal project in Waterford. Minerva loves her job, makes great money, and is considered by her EOC teachers and counselors as a fine role model for the students and the EOC.


EOC Program(s):
Building Trades

Marcia Gates

Graduated: 1986

EOC Part of Her Life
"The EOC wanted me to succeed, and I did." Marcia Gates

Marcia Gates was a single mother in need of a career when she heard of the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center in the 1980s. She graduated from the center’s Building Trades Program in 1985. Marcia impressed her instructor and counselors with her creative ability. Recognizing her intelligence and her aptitude, her counselors and instructors urged Marcia to continue her education in the EOC's College Preparation Program. Her goal was to attend college in an art-related field.

Upon graduation, Marcia received the State University of New York's Office of Special Programs Student Achievement Award in recognition of “individual scholastic excellence and extraordinary dedication to self-improvement.” In 1988, she graduated with honors from Russell Sage Junior College of Albany with an associate’s degree in Graphic Design.

Though she has not formally pursued employment in the art field, Marcia is now employed as a driver trainer and a school bus driver for the North Colonie Central School District. The skills she developed at the EOC helped her greatly in developing the confidence needed for her positions. She also has a part-time baiting business at Lock 7 on the Erie Canal, a business she started as a result of attending an entrepreneur workshop at the EOC. Marcia has used her art background on many occasions over the years when giving back to the EOC by designing layouts and graphics for special EOC events. "The Center is so much a part of my life,” said Marcia. "The EOC wanted me to succeed, and I did!"


EOC Program(s):
Building Trades, College Preparation


Venus Ward

Graduated: 2010

Prior to enrolling at the EOC, Venus Ward had a history of working minimum wage jobs. Strongly motivated the birth of her daughter in 2007, Venus began to research programs at the EOC and decided to pursue the welding field as it provided excellent opportunities for a good income and for advancement. Within a week after enrolling in the program, Venus felt as if she had been transformed. Once I starting welding, said Venus, “I realized I had found my passion. Venus has completed both Welding and Welding upgrade, earning NYS one inch, OSHA, and eight American Welding Society certifications. She praised the EOC staff, especially her instructor Tom Dingley, whom she views as “a second dad to me!” In May 2010, Venus accepted a position with the boilermaker’s union and is thrilled to be starting a career in her chosen field.

EOC Program(s):

Ivan Solis

Graduated: 2008

When One Door Closes - Another One Opens
"I am grateful for the EOC for giving me the opportunity to put my life on track" Ivan Solis

Ivan Solis, a 2008 graduate of the Welding program, is one of the many individuals who has benefited from the additional certifications available. He found himself unemployed when the company for which he worked for 13 years closed its doors.

Solis came to the EOC to train for a new career as a welder. He obtained the NYS Department of Transportation's one inch steel certification. When new American Welding Society (AWS) certifications were offered, Solis completed seven more certifications. Completing the certifications has given Solis a new career and, more importantly, a good job. In May, Solis accepted a job with Ross Valve as a welder.

EOC Program(s):

Donald Gregoire

Graduated: 1999

From Dead End Job to Foreman
"The EOC really helped me out!" Donald Gregoire

Before entering the EOC, Donald Gregoire was stuck in a dead end job. On a friend’s recommendation, Donald enrolled in the EOC's Welding Program in 1996. He discontinued in 1997 for personal reasons and returned to his old job. After a few short months, however, he realized that he wanted to start over and returned to the Welding Program.

After completing the course work and obtaining his New York State Department of Transportation certification, he was hired by Intermagnetics Corporation in Latham as a welder mechanic. He was soon promoted to welder and more recently to leader foreman. He has doubled the salary he was making only a few years ago and now looks forward to purchasing a home for himself, his wife and his young daughter. "My family was just surviving, and now we are doing well," said Donald. "The EOC really helped me out!"


EOC Program(s):

Julia Basile

Graduated: 2003

Single Mother Finds Success as Welder
"The training I received at the EOC has been a dream come true for me." Julia Basile

When she was 12 years old, Julia Basile discovered her love for welding. Years later, as a single mother living in Schenectady with her daughter, Susan, she saw a television advertisement for the EOC. She immediately enrolled in the Welding Program and graduated at the top of her class in 1998. Through the help of the Center's Employment Services, she obtained her first welding job at Albany Steel.

When her New York State certification lapsed, Julia returned to the EOC for recertification. She obtained a job as a welder with the New York State Thruway Authority to work on a project on the Tappan Zee Bridge. The move to Orange County has brought her and her daughter closer to her family who live downstate and, as a member of the teamster's union, she now receives a good salary with medical and retirement benefits.

"This job is a dream-come-true for me," said Julia. "Every day I get to see the beauty God created!” She credits her instructor, Tom Dingley, for inspiring her to succeed. "He made a believer out of me," said Julia.


EOC Program(s):

Donald Riston

Graduated: 1996

Welding Graduate Finds Success
A rusty old truck in need of bodywork led Don Riston to a successful career as a welder.

Donald Riston came to the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center to accompany a friend who was signing up for a business program. While at the Center, Donald saw information about the Welding Program and thought the program would help him enhance his ability to restore trucks, a passion since childhood. He enrolled in January 1996 and soon realized that a career in welding would be a better alternative to the long hours he put in on two jobs as a construction worker and a cook. He was impressed with his instructor, Tom Dingley, and enjoyed the coursework.

Donald graduated from the Welding Program in September 1996 and soon obtained employment as a pipe welder at Met Weld in Schenectady. The skills he learned at the EOC combined with the experience he gained on the job helped him to obtain a promotion to a pipe welder. He is now a welder fabricator and one of the three senior welders at the Altamont-based company. He has an excellent salary and excellent benefits.

A strong advocate of the EOC, Donald has recommended the EOC’s Welding Program to laborers at the company to upgrade their skills and increase their earning power. Since graduating from the EOC, Donald has married, and he and his wife are the proud parents of two children and the proud owners of their own home. And the rusty truck? It was restored and traded in for other old trucks that Donald fixes up in his spare time.


EOC Program(s):

Thomas Dingley

Graduated: 1968

Welding Student Becomes Welding Teacher
“I owe everything to the EOC from my graduation to my new career after my retirement. My students are always welcome back to my classroom.” Tom Dingley

Thomas Dingley’s experience at the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center has come full circle, first as a welding student and now as the welding instructor. Thomas enrolled in the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center’s Welding Program in 1967. He was impressed not only with the training he received but also with the Center’s open door policy. Even after he graduated, Thomas’s instructor, Frank Wiley, encouraged Thomas to return periodically to upgrade and enhance his skills. These skills served him well for more than 23 years of employment in the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics. A lifelong member of the Boilermaker’s Local 197, he utilized his welding background in the nuclear plant at the Knolls Atomic Power Plant in West Milton.

When Thomas retired, he returned to the EOC in September 1995 in a new role, as the successor to his mentor, Frank Wiley. He now uses his talents and expertise to teach his students and help them to find employment in a lucrative field. For the past six years, his graduates have demanded the highest salaries of EOC graduates, with some starting in positions at more than $50,000 a year. Thomas adheres to Frank’s open door policy and encourages his students to return at any time to upgrade their skills or learn more about the ever-changing field of welding. “I owe everything to the EOC from my graduation to my new career after my retirement,” said Thomas. “My students are always welcome back to my classroom.”


EOC Program(s):

Misty Smith

Graduated: 2005

Woman Finds Career in Welding
“I love my job and I have an excellent salary with benefits." Misty Smith

After years of physical and emotional abuse, Misty Smith wanted to be a stronger woman, and nothing would be stronger than being a woman welder. A resident of Troy, she passed the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center site on Congress Street many times before gathering the courage to enroll in the Welding Program.

She not only gained a skill, but also a level of confidence in herself that she would not have believed possible. After graduation, she obtained employment at Intermagnetics Corporation as a TIG welder. “Things are going amazingly well,” stated Misty. “I love my job and I have an excellent salary with benefits.” Misty now encourages other women to pursue a career in welding to reap the financial and personal rewards that she has experienced.


EOC Program(s):