Philbeck is quite the accomplished student, and he has successfully balanced work and college. He has a grade-point average of 4.0 and high honors. At the graduation ceremony, he will receive a “Learn for Life” award and an award for being on the president’s list throughout his time at Gaston College. He previously earned certificates in electronics engineering technology and manufacturing technology. Through his participation in the Gaston College Apprenticeship 321 program, he was awarded a Journey worker certificate and card.
Dr. George Hendricks, the college’s interim dean of engineering technologies, nominated Philbeck for the Student Excellence Award. Hendricks recently extolled this exemplary student.
“Michael first came to Gaston College through the Apprenticeship 321 program,” he said. “He is capitalizing on the credits he earned as an apprentice and will earn three associate degrees in May. His academic achievements and his college and community service make him highly deserving of the Gaston College Student Excellence Award.”
In 2017, Philbeck was named the Gaston College Apprentice of the Year. He enrolled in Gaston College four years ago to join the Apprenticeship 321 program, which provides participants with job-specific training and a cost-free education at Gaston College while they’re earning a salary from local employers. Philbeck has been employed by Firestone Fibers and Textiles in Kings Mountain for more than 20 years now, and he has worked in a variety of positions. Midway through his apprenticeship, he was promoted from a mechanic B position to mechanic A. After completing the apprenticeship program in 2017, he was promoted to electro-mechanical technician.
Married and the father of five children, Philbeck has been deeply involved with many activities at Gaston College and in the community. He has been a member of Phi Beta Lambda, president of the Gamma Beta Phi National Honor Society, president of the Engineering Technology Honor Society and treasurer of the Student Government Association.
He also participates in such community organizations as Relay for Life and Upwards, amongst others, and he is an elder of the First Presbyterian Church of Cherryville. Along with working full-time, attending school, caring for his family and his many activities, Philbeck also works full-time as the president of USW Local 1133L, where he represents workers at Firestone’s Kings Mountain and Gastonia plants.
“Many people think that they need to go to a university to get a quality education,” said Philbeck. “I can personally tell you that is not the case. Since I work full-time and provide for a family of seven, community college was my only choice. Through the Apprenticeship 321 program, I learned so much about my job-specific field. The program gave me the confidence and the newfound love for electronics and automation to go along with my mechanical background.”
Philbeck is appreciative of the support he got at Firestone and at Gaston College.
“I am truly grateful to Firestone for funding and supporting my education,” he said. “At Gaston College, the instructors, advisers, success coaches and the rest of the faculty are second to none. They care about your success and not only provide you with the tools, but they also share in your accomplishments. I would not have been as successful had it not been for all of them. I am forever thankful for all Gaston College and Firestone have done for me.”
Philbeck has been accepted to Western Carolina University and will begin pursuing his bachelor of science in engineering technology this summer.
To learn more about the Apprenticeship 321 program, be sure to check out the Website at www.gaston.edu or contact co-ordinator Jill Hendrix by telephone or e-mail respectively at (704) 922-6521 or email@example.com.
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