HCTC Technical Program Gives Future to Letcher Countian Graduate Sidney Fields
Letcher Countian Sidney Fields says he was never sure what he wanted to do with his life after high school.
“I had originally come to HCTC (Hazard Community and Technical College) to the Tech Campus to do HVAC in 2012, but I was 19 years old and didn’t really want to go to school,” Fields says with a laugh.
Fields’ strong, solid presence puts one in mind of a military soldier more than an HVAC technician—which is exactly where he ended up when he enlisted in the National Guard later that year. Three years later he entered the law enforcement field in Letcher County as a sheriff’s deputy.
“Those kinds of positions are dependent on elections, so when the sheriff changed, I started looking at options for school again,” he says.
Field first tried his hand at nursing through a local nursing college, but quickly found he wasn’t interested enough to make it his career.
“At that time, in 2020, I was working with another contractor doing carpentry work. I didn’t know anything about electrical work but was super interested in it,” Fields says. “That’s when I decided to get up with Beth Banks at HCTC to get enrolled in electrical classes.”
Fields says his experience with HCTC for the last two years has been “wonderful.” He admits that that hasn’t always been the case for him when he’s approached other colleges.
“Some other local colleges just don’t have a tech campus close enough to me. I would have to drive to Cumberland for the technical campus and it’s just more convenient for me to drive to Hazard. That on top of knowing people at HCTC and getting quick responses to any emails or calls I made—which honestly hasn’t been the same at other community colleges I’ve looked into—made HCTC an obvious choice,” he says. “Hazard’s always been excellent on getting back with you and everything like that.”
Since starting school, Fields has picked up an apprentice position with Brooks Contracting out of Whitesburg, Ky. Even when it’s not class related, he says his instructors don’t hesitate to help him whenever he has a question.
“There hasn’t been a time that I couldn’t reach my instructors. It’s no problem for him to answer my questions or if I just ask him where to find something in the code book, he’ll tell me exactly where to find it that way I can see and learn for myself,” Fields adds.
Fields’ instructor, Danny Ingrahm, says he wishes there were more students like Fields coming through his class.
“He’s got that drive and you can tell he’s made for it,” Ingrahm says. “He’s going to do great things once he’s out of here.”
And that won’t be too far off, Fields says, with graduation coming in December 2022. Planning to stick with the company he’s with now to receive his journeyman license, he adds that he thinks his future looks wide open now.
“With trades right now, there’s not a whole lot of people who want to do them, so there’s jobs and job opportunities all over the US,” he says. “I’ve looked into moving potentially, but I think for right now I’m going to stay right at home that way I can keep learning and growing my trade.”
Fields adds that he wishes he’d have come to HCTC earlier with the drive he has now and urges anyone on the fence about attending to just go ahead and make the leap.
“Without HCTC I’d still be struggling and trying to find work. Now, I’m about to graduate and already have a job. It’s great here and you couldn’t find a better place to get your education with the amount of experience these instructors have to help teach you,” Fields says. “Anyone could teach from a book all day, but here they know what they’re doing and have done it.”