by Larry Hall
Valencia College

Carl Roc’s future was uncertain even before graduating from St. Cloud High School. He didn’t have the money for college, but knew he could make something of his life, he just had to figure how to make it happen. Osceola County’s Osceola Prosper with Valencia College was the answer.

He thought he couldn’t enroll in college because he had seen the financial strain that his family experienced when his older sister went to Florida A&M University. Roc harbored no resentment about it, but knew his path would have to be different, especially following a conversation with his dad.

“I saw what a burden that was for my dad and he told me he didn’t know if he could pay for my college, so that made me step up and find a better plan for myself,” says Roc.

Valencia College

During his senior year of high school, Roc weighed his options. He had worked at Publix and moved on to a retail position with Nike. He figured the best way to pay for college might be through work – if he could secure some form of tuition reimbursement.

Just as he was settling on that path, Roc received exciting news from his high school counselor. He learned about the Osceola Prosper program, which offers free tuition to Valencia College for high school graduates from Osceola County, starting with the class of 2022.

The program was a dream come true, but now it was time to discover his passion – and what he wanted to study.

Roc took a Computer Numerical Control class (CNC machining) in high school, but he wanted to explore other options. He joined his counselor and classmates on a visit to some Valencia College Accelerated Skills Training classes. There, he met one of the instructors of the Industrial Automation Technician – Mechatronics program.

“I spoke with Brendon Monize and he had words of inspiration to help guide me. He only had to say a couple of words and I knew I wanted to be a part of this program,” said Roc.

“From start to finish, it was a good experience,” he added. “Bringing us together in this classroom for six months, you get to learn about other people, how they work and what their mindset is, and we all have this great bond. They taught me a lot and I taught them a lot.”

The path chosen by Roc turned out to be a successful one. Before he graduated from Valencia’s 22-week program, Roc was hired by Siemens Mobility as part of their partnership with Brightline Trains and Valencia College. He is now transitioning from grocery store and retail work into a sustainable skilled trade career.

“It’s a big change for me mentally and a chance to grow. As an individual who is only 19, it matured me,” Roc said. “It’s a good opportunity because Siemens is a great company, and they want each individual to grow. That’s what I love about the company.”

Before Roc completed his training and accepted the offer from Siemens, he and his classmates toured the Brightline facility.

“It was unreal. Just talking to those people and seeing how motivated they were was very pleasing. I spoke with the head technician, and he talked about his experience with Siemens and how everyone there has a different background and story.”

The process didn’t come without challenges though.

“The hardest part was going to school and going to work. I would be in class from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and then go to work. I had to get used to that and still obtain all the knowledge. It was hard trying to get through those six months really fast,” he said.

His hard work and mental fortitude helped him overcome the challenge of training in the difficult Industrial Automation Technician – Mechatronics program while juggling a tight schedule. Osceola Prosper helped him overcome the financial challenges that nearly stood in his way.

Now, the sharp-minded Roc is an employee for Siemens Mobility with an eye on the future which includes Valencia. “I know we’re lacking semiconductors with the thing between the U.S. and China, and I want to be an engineer, so I just registered for more classes.”

With the starting line behind him, Roc is on track and looking forward to his future.

Source: Valencia College