ORLANDO, Fla. – Iconic heavy metal band Metallica will be the "Hero of the Day" for more than two dozen Valencia College students who will receive a scholarship from the band to help pay for short-term training in skilled trades.
Carolyn McMorran, the assistant vice president of professional continuing education, said Valencia College was one of 15 community colleges across the country to receive the funds through the "Metallica Scholars Initiative."
"We were so honored to be given this opportunity," McMorran said.
The $100,000 grant from the heavy metal band will be used to provide scholarships for 25 students who enroll in the welding, heavy equipment or mechatronics programs.
"We felt if they're a heavy metal band we should pick heavy metal programs, so there's some connection there," McMorran said.
The courses are part of Valencia College’s Accelerated Skills Training programs. McMorran said in less than five months students will learn the skills they need to get high-paying jobs in industries that are in high demand.
“We really target unemployed and underemployed people, bring them into these opportunities,” she said.
McMorran said the grant could not come at a better time. More than 67,000 Floridians filed new unemployment claims last week. Many families are still struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.
She said the scholarships can help people looking to make a career change. She adds these industries are hiring, even during the pandemic.
“I think a lot of people are re-evaluating their career choice and saying, ‘I want to be in an essential industry,‘” McMorran said.
Seann Burks graduated from the mechatronics program in 2019. Before attending Valencia College, he said he worked several jobs to support his family.
"I was working six days a week, two jobs most of the days, have a little bit of time for my kid," Burks said.
Burks said he was looking for a better job and found out about the mechatronics program. He now works as a technician repairing and maintaining the equipment at Walmart's distribution Center in Davenport.
"It was awesome to go from two or three jobs just to make ends meet to going to to work one job and almost doubling if not more than what I was making at the two jobs working 60 hours," Burks said.
He adds that with his new job and skills set he is still working during the pandemic.
“If I wouldn’t have went through that program, I would probably have been jobless too,” he said.
For Valencia College and Metallica, "Nothing Else Matters" except helping students succeed.
"All of us in the band feel fortunate that music has provided us the opportunity to be successful doing something we are passionate about," Lars Ulrich, Metallica's co-founder and drummer said in a news release. "We want to share our success with others so that they can find a job where they can do the same."
McMorran said the cost of each program is $7,000. She said in addition to the Metallica scholarship, the community college also offers other scholarships to help make the programs affordable.
The programs start early August. Click here if you’re interested in applying to the program and for the scholarship.