Steering her future

 In Fulfilling the Mission
Melissa Brown

Melissa Brown shows her new certificate after graduation in July with MaryDehl Reed, her career navigator.

Melissa Brown plans to be part of the cure to the supply chain headache that the U.S. has experienced over the last few years. She will be hitting the big road in an 18-wheeler after earning her commercial driver’s license through Palmetto Goodwill.

Melissa has wanted to drive a truck since she was 18. Now, as an adult with grown children of her own, she is realizing that dream.

“I started driving para-transit buses in 2003. I was taking people to doctor’s appointments and to the pharmacy. It wasn’t until April 2021 that I realized I need to be on the road by myself,” she explained.

Though she was nervous about taking the test, she tried in 2007 but did not pass. Then, her 18-year-old niece earned her own CDL, and Melissa was fueled with inspiration.

“I finally got up the nerves to take it again,” she said. “And I went down to the DMV, I studied the book a lot, and I finished the class. I did really good in it. I am so ready to drive a truck and be on the open road”

Truck driving has been a traditionally male-dominated profession, but Melissa is part of a new wave of women who are working in the field.

“Melissa was an easy approval for CDL enrollment because she came with Bus Driving experience from the Williamsburg County Transit which she still currently works for,” explained MaryDehl Reed, her Palmetto Goodwill career navigator. “She truly welcomed the driving aspect and wanted to start something more than just local driving.  All her kids are grown, and she was willing to commute to any location where CDL class was available.”

MaryDehl said her client is a perfect example of someone who demonstrated a lot of patience, grace and determination.  She said Melissa embraced the career navigation process and made the best of her experience at Palmetto Training, Inc., in Sumter.

With a new license and professional certificate in hand, Melissa has some simple advice for other women.

“Just go do it. That’s all you got to do. Just study the tests well, read the book, take that test, and go get your CDL license,” she said.

What’s next for our new grad?

“When I get six months to a year of experience, I want to get my own. I am going to start my own company. I will have four trucks and I will be successfully operating a company,” she remarked.

10-4, Melissa, message received!

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