Hands-on experience of GTCC’s HVAC program exactly what Kleadus Foreman needed for new career pathway

Published on: May 2, 2024
AC/Heating & Refrigeration Program Director Jeff Underwood (left) and Kleadus Foreman
Kleadus Foreman started the college’s two-year program for HVAC in 2022 to make a career change.

When Kleadus Foreman was in high school, no one mentioned trade schools when discussing life after secondary education. The goal was to get into a four-year university and earn a bachelor’s degree.

“When I graduated from high school in 2009, everyone was going to a four-year college,” said Foreman, who was born in Ohio but moved to North Carolina as a teenager.

Foreman got a bachelor’s degree in social work and immediately landed a job. Two-and-a-half years later, they walked away from their degree field to work full time in the restaurant industry where they worked for five years, progressing to an assistant manager role before COVID rocked the restaurant business.

“I don’t regret my experience and bachelor's degree, but I wish I had been given more information about the trades while in high school,” said Foreman. “There were not enough resources to show other options.

“When COVID hit, I was laid off. So, I took that time to figure out what I wanted my next chapter to be.”

Foreman applied to GTCC in 2022 and started the college’s two-year program for HVAC that fall.

Foreman’s wife received her paramedic degree from GTCC and recommended the college for a fresh look at career options.

“I looked into welding and HVAC and was excited after doing some research in all the possibilities these fields had to offer,” they said.

Foreman said a friend advised if they “liked math and science, they would love HVAC.” This rang true for Foreman, who hopes to land a job in commercial HVAC work after graduation. “In HVAC I will still be helping people, but this time in the manual labor environment I tend to thrive in.

“With the trades available at GTCC, especially HVAC, you get exposed to a little bit of everything,” Foreman said of college’s programs which offer hands-on experience and allows students to practice the real-life skills that will be needed in the field.

“It had been seven years since I was in school,” Foreman said. “It was a smooth path enrolling with GTCC. I was able to talk to an advisor and the teachers who run the HVAC program. Mentally, I was prepared to get back to school. I knew what it was going to take, and I’m dedicated to making this new career in HVAC come to fruition. My professors and classmates have been wonderful and supportive; I highly encourage others to look into trade school at GTCC.”

Foreman is on schedule to achieve an associate degree in air conditioning, heating, and refrigeration technology in May 2024 from the college.

“As a queer black person, I hope my story will encourage others to not lose hope. Whether it is going back to school, changing careers, or working in environments you are not normally seen in, the choice is yours. Know your worth and let that guide you to the life you want for yourself."

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