Truck driving training, scholarship opportunities now available

Two trucking rigs used to train students at the Odessa College Truck Driving Academy sit in the parking lot during a press conference Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2023. (OA File Photo)

William Church remembered as a young boy riding in the cab of his dad’s tractor-trailer rig up and down the eastern United States and seeing everything along the way. His dad was a professional truck driver, and, by the age of 12, “Church” had experienced being in large cities like New York City and Philadelphia and traveling through the Eastern Seaboard states from Maine to Florida.

The travel and the experience were an adventure for a young boy from a small town, and Church knew that he didn’t want to stay in his hometown when he grew up. A career in transportation would be how he would eventually accomplish his dreams.

After graduating from high school and not being ready to commit to college studies, he enlisted in the military. Even though his primary duty was infantry, he spent most of his time during his tour of duty in his secondary assignment – training soldiers to drive military vehicles and teaching related transportation safety procedures. When he completed his military service, Church had a job that required him to get his Commercial Driver’s License; that license and the skills learned from his years in the transportation field have been the tools that have taken him to where he is today – Director of the Odessa College Truck Driving Academy.

Church said, “I have built the professional truck driving program from the ground up to train the students to be professional commercial vehicle drivers and to emphasize the importance of safety on the road and in every aspect of their profession.” Church added there is a great need for trained professional drivers in our region and the OC Truck Driving Academy graduates will help fill the need.

In the past year, the Texas Workforce Commission reported that there were nearly 4,000 open CDL positions in the Permian Region alone. To help address that problem, the Permian Strategic Partnership made a grant of $3,523,000 to the Academy to expand its CDL training program. The PSP grant set a goal for the program of increasing the number of graduates annually by 100, and provided funds for additional equipment, instructors, and scholarships for students to aid in accomplishing the goal.