Non-traditional student graduates for second time from Paul D. Camp Community College

Melvin Evans Richard BakerMelvin Evans, left, and Instructor Richard Baker prepare to put gauges on a unit in the HVAC lab at PDCCC.
It is never too late to enhance one’s knowledge, particularly if the goal is like that of Melvin Evans, a 61-year-old Veteran who wants to expand his opportunities in the workforce. Evans, a resident of Courtland, will graduate from Paul D. Camp Community College on May 15 for the second time, earning a Career Studies Certificate in Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC).
The 1974 graduate of Southampton High School also completed a Welding certificate at PDCCC in 1977, graduating near the same time as his sister, Vivian Evans Baker, who encouraged him to attend the college. “I welded for Franklin Equipment for a while,” he said, “and then I decided to enlist in the Army.”
Evans started out training to be a chemical equipment repairman, but was later deployed to Germany, where he was tasked with using his welding skills once again.
“I found that it just wasn’t for me,” Evans said of serving in the Armed Forces. After a stint living in Richmond, he settled back in his native county and began working for the Town of Courtland.
“My mother became ill,” he said, “I left the job with Courtland in 2003 to take care of her.” Sadly, his mother passed away in 2005, and after being hired for various work in the area, Evans began assisting residents of the county with odd jobs and errands.
“The people I do the most for are my mother’s former caregiver, Evelyn Mayfield, who is retired from the Southampton County Department of Health, and my cousin, Virginia Boyd,” said Evans. “I run errands, drive them to doctor appointments, do yard work or anything they need.”
Although Evans loved to weld, he began looking into another field after being unemployed for several years.
“I kept hearing about HVAC and my brother-in-law said the field was wide open,” he said. “I enrolled at PDCCC in 2014. I’ve enjoyed learning something new and challenging. The instructors have been excellent and so willing to work with me.”
Instructor of Industrial Trades Richard Baker was pleased with the diversity and cohesiveness of his class, stating that his students range in age from 20 to 72 years old and have developed a strong bond with each other.
“Melvin has been the undisputed leader in the class,” said Baker. “Everyone looks to him. Student-to-student teaching is by far a more effective method of teaching.
Evans said he is thankful to his sister, Jackie, who provides him with transportation to the college, and for the financial aid he has received. “Financial aid has been a blessing to pay for this class,” he said. “I wouldn’t have been able to enroll the HVAC program without it.”
He was selected to represent Paul D. Camp Community College at the Virginia General Assembly in January and serves as deacon at Allen Grove Baptist Church in Franklin, where the Rev. Wilbur Walden is pastor.
After graduation, Evans will return to the college to complete classes in Electronics-Controls and utilize the Career Development Center to prepare for interviews and job searches.
Melvin Evans Richard BakerInstructor Richard Baker, left, watches as Melvin Evans tests the voltage on a unit.