PHOENIX — Paying for school is expensive and can create barriers for a lot of folks trying to jumpstart their careers. But a scholarship program is changing that dynamic at APS, creating new opportunities for Arizonans.
Tyler Sam is a pre-apprentice lineman, who's learning the ropes of becoming an APS lineman. They're the pros who maintain our power and respond when natural disasters hit.
Sam recently got hired on at APS. His training to become a journeyman lineman is rigorous.
"(We're) packing ice chests full of ice and water, and getting all of the material out of the shop," Sam said. "Whatever they need for that day."
It'll take about five years and a lot of work to become a journeyman lineman. To Sam, the opportunity is more than just a job.
He grew up on Navajo Nation in Chinle, without running water.
"There are some families on the reservation that still don't have power or running water," Sam said. "And seeing that, it inspires somebody like me to want to do something about it."
Sam has proven his success so far. He received a utility lineworker scholarship. It's thanks to a partnership between APS and Friendly House, said Jerry Mendoza, Friendly House CEO.
"This scholarship gives them that first step," Mendoza said. "(It) gives them one way to get in and get going with it."
The competitive application program is creating opportunities in a high-paying utility field while expanding diversity. APS said lineworkers in the United States make an average salary of $82,712 per year.
"There's just not a lot of diversity in the industry," Dennis Anthony, an APS Manager, said.
Sam said the scholarship paid for his Chandler-Gilbert Community College classes, which was about $15,000 worth.
"It took a big burden off of me because I really wanted to get into linework and the major challenge I was facing was financial," Sam said.
Now, Sam is learning all he can now about utilities, with a bright future planned.
"I want to be an example because where I'm from there's not a lot of jobs and there are a lot of people who are trying to look for something to get in," Sam said.
Application forms for the next round of scholarships are due by June 4.
APS and Friendly House said they've introduced more than 200 individuals to careers in energy through targeted outreach and pre-apprentice program information sessions, so far. The first cohort of scholarship recipients had a 78% graduation rate.
12 News on Youtube
Check out more Inspiring Arizona stories on the 12 News Youtube page. And don't forget to subscribe!