Career Promise Brightens Future for Thomas Academy Senior

March 8, 2019

Lake Waccamaw, NC – When opportunity knocked, Thomas Academy senior Malik Parker was ready to answer.

In this case, the opportunity came in the form of an articulation agreement between Southeastern Community College and Thomas Academy to provide eligible students with access to the Work Force Continuing Education Pathways through College and Career Promise.Career Promise certificate holder Malik Parker with Thomas Academy sign

“We are the first school in Columbus County to have this opportunity for our students,” said Dr. Geraldine Bradshaw, director at Thomas Academy. “This pathway provides our junior and senior students with the opportunity to take a one-semester course where they are trained in Working Smart, manufacturing operations, forklift operations, CPR, and AED.”

Parker is the first student to fully complete the program, having been among the first to sign up in the fall.

“I was motivated by the opportunities shared going into the program and even more by the opportunities shared as I was going out into the workplace,” he said.

His certification in manufacturing operations resulted in a job at Lowe’s in Whiteville primarily as a forklift operator.

“This is truly a step up from the fast food jobs I had before, and I see additional opportunities to step up into a department or even management,” said Parker.

Parker admits that the program ran a bit differently than he expected, but he understands the value now that he is on the job.

“There is a lot of listening in the program, which was a little different than what I was expecting,” he said. “My advice to anyone in the program is don’t be discouraged by all the listening and talking. It really prepared me for the job. Without that information, you would end up sitting in the workplace wondering what to do.”

His work on the forklift was a key part of the eye opening experience.

“The first time I operated a forklift I realized how much different it is from a car,” Parker said with a smile. “It really was scary, in a good way. It gave me a realization of how far I’ve made it.”

Officially a part-time employee, Parker works Sunday through Thursday on a regular basis.

“The position comes with challenges, but it is a lot better pay than what I could make in any fast food position,” he said. “And I know that I can step up from unloading trucks to working in a department to being in management. I know it can be done because I have seen others make those moves with my own eyes.”

Parker’s opportunities are just beginning according to Bradshaw.

“This is just the start for this young man’s success,” Dr. Bradshaw said. “He now has a certification that opens doors to high paying jobs across the country combined with workplace experience. He can choose to go wherever he wants with the confidence that he will be able to find a job to support himself.”

Parker agrees. “I see an actual future in a different way than before. In five years I would like to be continuing my education while also working in a manufacturing job making $20 - $30 per hour. And I mean a manufacturing job working in an office running equipment from my computer.”

This kind of success is something Bradshaw hopes to see continued in students now participating in spring semester offerings through the articulation agreement.

“We want our students to be able to explore their interests through the collaborations,” said Bradshaw. “This means taking the pathway appropriate for their goals, be it job force or college readiness.”

For more information about Thomas Academy, contact Dr. Bradshaw at 910-646-2237 or


About Thomas Academy

Thomas Academy is a North Carolina public charter school that educates middle and high school students. Located on the Lake Waccamaw campus of Boys and Girls Homes of North Carolina, the academy provides a tailored academic experience to students who are oftentimes in need of a more specialized, integrated curriculum. Thomas Academy was founded on personalization in education, unique offerings and educating through purposeful design. Enrollment is open to any student in grades six through 12.

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