Corey Luther, a fire fighter from South Carolina, is this year’s recipient of the Stoner Schmiege Wind Turbine Technician Academy Scholarship. The $7,500 scholarship, awarded each year to a student in the WTTA, offers great financial relief to Luther and his wife Caitlin, who is at home in Hartsville, South Carolina with the couple’s seven-month-old son and preschool-aged daughter.
The Luthers knew it would be difficult to be apart during Corey’s six months of training, but they are certain the sacrifice will pay off –and the scholarship has lightened the burden. “It’s a huge load off my mind and at the same time, it’s humbling,” Luther said of the scholarship. “There are a lot of other students who are as deserving as me.”
Cindy Buckley, Executive Director of Training at Kalamazoo Valley’s Groves Center, said the WTTA is rigorous. “Choosing to attend the Wind Turbine Technician Academy reflects an individual’s drive to create a career aligned with their dedication to making renewable energy,” Buckley said. “We’ve earned our reputation for producing extraordinarily prepared technicians thus encouraging very driven candidates to apply to the course.”
Luther discovered Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Wind Turbine Technician Academy while researching career options online. He was immediately impressed with the program’s solid reputation and the potential for employment that the field offers.
“I’ve always been interested in renewables, but in the region where I live, it’s hard to find careers that involve renewables. This will get me involved on a large scale because of the growth in the wind industry,” Luther said.
Luther’s wife will drive to Kalamazoo to attend his graduation ceremony on December 20. They will drive back to South Carolina together and he will begin his job search. The scholarship will offer “a little extra padding to make sure we can get through the uncertainty that comes after graduation,” he said.
Luther said he’s excited about his future as a wind turbine technician. Heights have never bothered him, so climbing and working on a wind turbine appeals to him. “It’s kind of exhilarating, really,” he said of the view from atop a turbine.
Although he had no idea what to expect when he applied to the Academy, Luther said it has exceeded his expectations. “I got up here not knowing at all what to expect, but I’m excited to be here and I highly recommend it,” he said. Luther said the students and staff in the program are supportive and friendly. “It’s a good group of people,” he said. Ideal candidates to the Academy should “be flexible, be able to think on your feet, and be able to work under pressure with expensive equipment,” Luther said.
Buckley said she was pleased to award the scholarship to Luther. “Every trainee makes personal sacrifices to attend this program,” Buckley said. “The Stoner Schmeige scholarship is really a reflection of the donors’ respect for those sacrifices and for the positive impact that choice makes on our environment. It is a very special award. Corey is very deserving of this award.”
The scholarship was established in 2011 by Janet Stoner and Rick Schmiege in support of Kalamazoo Valley’s Wind Turbine Technology Academy.