Imagine being in a room full of masters at the top of their trade. That was the case Nov. 3 at the Egypt Shrine Center of Tampa Bay. After four rigorous years of physical and technical training, nearly 30 Tampa Electric journeypersons graduated from their apprenticeship program.
Many of the line workers, substation electricians and network specialists were able to walk across the stage and receive their certificates. This serves as a symbol they were no longer apprentices, but journeypersons further dedicated to safely providing reliable power to Tampa Electric’s customers and community.
“You’re about to begin a career with a really good, growing company. The work and the electric utility industry is changing and evolving like it never has before. You should feel lucky to be a part of that,” said Vice President of Electric Delivery Chip Whitworth to the 2022 graduating class. “You’ve all embarked on this special career and there is a substantial commitment to that already. Today’s customers expect always-on power and you’re the ones who deliver on that expectation.”
With those expectations come sacrifices. Sacrifices Chip expressed appreciation for – not only to the journeypersons themselves but also to their families. “There’s going to be many hours of overtime, storm restoration, storm restoration out of state and customer demands,” said Chip. “That means a lot of time away from home and from family; and ballgames you’re going to miss. So, I want to look at all the spouses who are here tonight and (tell them) it’s your support and understanding that makes all of this work and we recognize your sacrifices. Your confidence helps all these guys respond when needed. I promise you, we understand that, and we thank you for that.”
Those proud significant others and other guests recognized their loved one’s remarkable accomplishment by cheering enthusiastically throughout the ceremony. Well-deserved applause, according to Phillip Reynolds, Director of Distribution Engineering & Operations. “If there is one place in the Tampa Bay area that people are proud to work at, it’s Tampa Electric,” said Phillip. “It’s just a tremendous legacy that we have at this company. Every time we put out a bid for apprentices, we have hundreds of people who want to come into the company. Each one of you represents someone who has done that successfully. Thank you for all the hard work that you put in for your apprenticeship and achieving the big accomplishment in becoming a journeyperson.”
Joining Phillip with praise and encouragement for the grads were Manager of Distribution Operations Matt Connatser, Senior Technical Trainers Robert Tolbert and Greg Martin; and Technical Trainer Martin Hernandez.
A huge thank you to the planning committee (Matt Connatser, Yashica Coley, Natalie Ashmore, Tavia Anderson and Scarlett Smith) for organizing a successful event in the middle of a pandemic and Hurricane Ian. The well-deserved celebration – complete with a steak and chicken meal, music, dancing and lots of laughs – was well worth the wait.
“It was a great evening to come together to celebrate a substantial accomplishment for our line workers, time to get to know one another outside of work, and nice to meet the family members that help enable the extra work hours our line workers endure,” said Chip.
Congratulations to the following journeypersons:
Substation Electrician Graduates:
Network Specialist Graduates:
Line Worker Graduates:
Salvatore “Sam” Sardegna
Tommy “Tommytime” Stallworth
Gamiel “Omar” Sesler