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Hailey Greenwell stands next to Mark Sorrells

Hailey Greenwell, who won 1st place in the SkillsUSA North Carolina competition two straight years, stands with FTCC President Dr. Mark Sorrells. [Photo by Brad Losh]

After serving in the U.S. Army in the medical field, Hailey Greenwell thought she had a career path laid out in front of her.

“When I got out of the Army, I went into Nursing school and I realized it was not for me,” she said. “I was in my junior year and dropped out.”

Fortunately, a DIY project over an extended winter break gave Hailey the spark she needed to find her true career path, working on electrical systems.

The 29-year-old Indianapolis native completed her coursework at FTCC in Electrical Systems Technology in December. She’ll walk in Commencement with her fellow graduates this month.

Hailey discovered her interest in electrical work when she was on a six-week break from Nursing school. To avoid idleness, she embarked on a hands-on project at home.

“I went from the go, go, go of Nursing school to having nothing to do,” Hailey said. “So I decided to turn my garage into a cabinet workshop.”

Hailey’s table saw needed a 240-volt outlet, which her garage didn’t have. With some long-distance help over the phone from her electrician uncle back in Indiana, she installed one.

“I had fun doing the electrical, learning how to install that,” she said.

Hailey, who had taken many of her Nursing prerequisites at FTCC, returned to enroll in the Electrical Systems Technology program.

“It’s very user-friendly here,” she said. “You’re able to sign up for your own classes and take control of your academic career. But if you need help, there are people and advisors to help.”

Hailey quickly learned to appreciate the intricacies of electrical work.

“When I started taking the classes here, I realized how much math goes into it,” she said. “It’s not just installing. There’s a lot of thought in the process.”

Hailey has excelled in the program, crediting instructors Ron Hamilton and Terry Rigsbee with steering her to success.

“With them, I wouldn’t be where I am,” she said. “They took me under their wing and taught me everything I know. They challenged me.”

She showed off her knowledge at the SkillsUSA State Competition in both years, finishing first in the Electrical Construction Wiring category.

She’ll represent the state at the national SkillsUSA Championships in June in Atlanta.

Hailey has aspirations of eventually opening her own electrical services company, and when she needs employees to grow her company, she knows where to look.

“My goal is to partner with FTCC and work with them to get some of their students to come out and get their journeyman hours with me,” Hailey said. “I want to be able to give back to the students here and help them get their license.”