Former Central Piedmont Community College student Jackie Bray will join about two dozen guests - and a long line of citizens throughout the years - in the First Lady's box at tonight's State of the Union address.
Presidents for the last 30 years have invited to the First Lady's box everyday Americans who exemplify themes in the State of the Union speech. It's one of the perks of being an incumbent - the invitations gets some press from lots of local papers, and the president gets to indirectly bask in successes he may or may not have much to do with.
Bray, who now works at the Siemens Charlotte Energy Hub, will presumably help President Barack Obama illustrate how innovative partnerships between education and corporate America can help create and fill jobs. CPCC, under President Tony Zeiss, has put an emphasis in recent years on training students to fill technical jobs. That focus has resulted in a health services center to serve the growing health industry and a partnership with Duke Energy to train workers in that burgeoning industry.
Bray is the product of one of those partnerships. According to the White House, she was laid off from her job as a high speed packaging mechanic last January. She enrolled in Central Piedmont Community College to prepare for Siemens pre-hiring test, took about 10 courses to prepare for work there, then was hired by Siemens last August. Bray, a single mother from Kings Mountain, now works as a process operator.
For CPCC, it's a well-deserved nod. The school is developing programs and partnerships critical to helping Charlotte provide the workforce it needs to attract a diversity of businesses. Charlotte's leaders have touted CPCC's programs and others like it. Tonight, the nation gets to hear about it, too.
Peter St. Onge