Last week, many of us were divided between two shades of blue as the men’s basketball teams from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University met at the Dean Smith Center. Arguably one of the greatest rivalries in college sports, this year’s matchup didn’t disappoint. After the Tar Heels led most of the game, the Blue Devils hung in there and clinched a 74-73 win. Regardless of which college team you pull for, I think we can all agree that North Carolina has some of the best universities, colleges and educational institutions in the nation. I had the opportunity to stop by a few of them and speak with students while traveling through the district last week.
First up, I stopped by Richmond Community College to learn more about Richmond Early College High School (REaCH), Scotland Early College High School (SEarCH) and workforce training programs utilized by Perdue Foods LLC and Plastek Inc. Due in part to the top-notch workforce training offered by RCC, these two companies recently announced expansions that will bring dozens of new jobs and economic growth to Richmond County. I’m committed to getting folks back to work, which is why I’m such a huge proponent of these programs. I recognize that providing quality education and workforce training is the first step to expanding opportunity and jobs in our state.
At RCC, I met with the president, Dr. Dale McInnis, and got a first-hand look at some of the engineering classes that help equip students with technical skills needed for many of our manufacturing jobs. I learned that RCC’s Electric Transmission Program is unparalleled across the country in the training and equipment it provides its students. Energy companies and community colleges from across the nation are now coming to RCC in hopes of replicating this program. I give them an A-plus for the work they’re doing to strengthen our community and prepare students for 21st century jobs.
Next, I visited Gray Stone Day School, a public charter school in Stanly County that serves nearly 500 students from five counties in the 8th District. I enjoyed visiting a few classes and seeing the incredible work our students can do when given the opportunity. Like many of our charter schools, Gray Stone Day School is serving the unique needs of students in innovative ways while giving families more choice in education. As the son of a retired public school teacher, I am a strong advocate for empowering students and parents with school choice and returning control back to our local communities and away from Washington. This school illustrates the great things that can be done when we create an education system where every child can succeed.
To cap off a successful week focused on our students, I hosted a service academy nomination reception. This was a chance for me to recognize the students who I nominated to our prestigious service academies. We have an incredible group of student this year — from valedictorians to merit scholars, sports coaches and captains, volunteer firefighters and EMTs, mentors, musicians and artists. Each one of these students worked extremely hard to get to this point, and I applaud them for the path they are choosing to further their education while serving our country.
As I have said time and time again, access to quality education is one of the most important things we can provide our citizens. Education is crucial for increasing the potential of our workforce and getting North Carolinians back to work. It goes hand in hand with my top three priorities: jobs, jobs and jobs. It’s why I’ll continue to focus on advancing polices that will not only foster job creation, but will also help equip workers with the skills necessary to find employment.
Richard Hudson, a Republican from Concord, represents the 8th District in the U.S. House, which includes most of Robeson County.