Pre-Apprenticeship for Electricians convenes

Rosendin Electric CEO Mike Greenawalt speaks to the first class enrolled in the Pre-Apprentice for Electricians program.

Photos by Ralph Freso

The continuing evolution of the Grand Canyon University campus includes more than new eateries and gathering spaces. The first class of the new Pre-Apprenticeship for Electricians program met Tuesday and heard from Rosendin Electric CEO Mike Greenawalt, who emphasized these words:

“Take every opportunity and take every chance.”

Those who applied for the apprenticeship program did.

Rachel Smith's previous jobs were canceled by COVID.

The Pre-Apprenticeship for Electricians paves the way for people seeking an alternative to being behind a computer screen or confined to an office cubicle. Through this scholarship, participants have the opportunity to join Rosendin's 7,500 employees from coast-to-coast and contribute to the $2.8 billion in revenue the company brings in each year.

It's a life-changing opportunity for many of the participants.

For Rachel Smith, this field is a perfect bridge between what she finds physically stimulating while providing an income.  

“I want to be on my feet, outside and doing something different every day,” she said. “I like fixing things and working with my hands.”

Trey Richmond (center) listens to Rosendin CEO Mike Greenawalt during the first class of the semester.

COVID restrictions halted her prior jobs, gymnastics coach and personal trainer. Smith was forced to deviate from her original path, and the timing of the pre-apprenticeship could not have been better.

“I needed to find another job that would survive the next pandemic, and this opportunity just showed up. It was an interesting connection that just fell into place when it needed to,” said Smith. “I get to be at GCU and learn something that will turn into a career quickly.”

After being a lead custodian at Alhambra High School and 16 years at Fry's, Don Killsworth was looking for a change of pace.

“I did two years of community college, but I got burnt out balancing a full-time job and being a full-time student," he said. "So to be back in this setting is a weird but exciting feeling.”

The scholarship program selected 80 scholarship recipients for the 2022-23 academic year — 40 for the fall semester and 40 for the spring.

Greenawalt is eager to put a dent in the electrician shortage.

Dr. Joe Veres, GCU’s Senior Vice President for Student Success, sees the program as a step in the future for the University.

“This is just another great feature about GCU. We’re constantly thinking, ‘How do we help our community? ‘How do we help our partners?’ ‘And how do we help our students?’” he said. “You’re looking at individuals who are highly capable, very intelligent and individuals that don’t need to do the traditional college route because their calling is to work with their hands.”

Senior Vice President for Student Success Dr. Joe Veres

What's next for the Pre-Apprenticeship program?

With a national shortage of electricians and a need for 100,000 trade workers in Arizona alone, Veres and Greenawalt hope to bridge the gap by providing and training these future electricians.

“That’s one of the great things about Mike Greenawalt — it’s not just about Rosendin, it’s about creating electricians,” said Veres. “In the future, we hope to have good conversations with other electrical contractors across the state and continue to create an easy and accessible direct path into this trade of work.”

A word of advice from Greenawalt:

“If you want to rise and move up in your career, take the risk. Take the chance.”

Those interested in the program can visit: https://www.gcu.edu/degree-programs/electrician-pre-apprenticeship

Contact staff writer Lydia P. Robles at 602-639-7665 or [email protected].

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GCU News: GCU unveils Pre-Apprenticeship for Electricians

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