Each year in recognition of Career Development Week, Haywood Community College brings back alumni from various programs of study to share work experiences after graduation with current students. This week provides a unique opportunity for current students to see a glimpse into their chosen field of study.

Becky Burnette, 2014 Professional Crafts Jewelry graduate is a metalsmith and designer who also works part-time at Twigs and Leaves Gallery in Waynesville. Her work is sterling silver one-of-a-kind pieces.  

She works in her home studio on her days off from the gallery making jewelry, preparing for shows, meeting customers, and working on paperwork. 

At Twigs and Leaves, Burnette gets an up-close look into the art world. “I am able to get feedback from people about my work,” she explains. “I get to meet artists and customers which allows me to network and get a feel for what the public wants and what other artists are doing.”

At the gallery, Burnette has the opportunity to put several skills learned at HCC to work. She helps keep the gallery set up and stocked, works with customers, photographs the artwork, and runs both the Facebook page and website.    

Burnette participates in several shows such as Mountain Heritage Day, Haywood Studio Tour, and Art After Dark. In addition to Twigs and Leaves, her work can be found at Twenty 20 Eyecare in Asheville and the Locals Market in Morganton.

To students, Burnette says, “HCC gives you all these resources. Use them wisely.”

John Chapman, 2013 HCC Machining graduate, works as a CNC Machinist at AlphaTech in Fletcher. He landed this job while still a student at HCC. His career at AlphaTech began from a co-operative positon through HCC where he got paid to work while still a student.

Chapman says his job in the lathe department of the Job Shop is different each day. He may make from 1 to 1,000 parts varying from guns and electrical parts to anti-brake parts or anything in between.

Coming to HCC after being laid off from a dead end job, Chapman says the most important thing for students to know is the value of an education. “What education is worth is not measurable.”

For Lauren Greene, 2013 HCC Medical Assisting graduate, education provided her with the knowledge of how to do her job successfully. She was able to hit the job running from what the college taught her.

Greene works at Haywood Women’s Medical Center as a Certified Medical Assistant. While she says no day is exactly the same, some of her job duties are checking charts, putting procedure kits together, updating electronic medical records, and bringing patients to the rooms.

“I love feeling like I make a difference in someone’s life,” Greene explains. “It is a rewarding profession to be able to give patients personal care.”

HCC offers more than 45 Associate, Diploma, and Certificate programs. For more information, visit www.haywood.edu or call 627-4500.