When Pheng Peter Xiong graduated from Stanly Community College's (SCC) Electronics Engineering Technology (EET) program in 2003, he did not realize he would be "paying it forward" in 2017. "Chuck Safrit, my EET instructor, helped me tremendously when I was taking EET classes," Peter recalls. "I remember he told me in class one day, "Memorizing things means you will eventually forget them. Understand it and you can look at it from different points of view."
Peter admits that studying for his degree at SCC was a long time ago when he was very young, but more importantly he remembers the instructors being very professional and helpful, a skill he would later develop for himself to help shape individuals for their future careers. "I specifically remember Mr. Safrit because he was super happy all the time. He taught with the mindset of getting people ready to go to work. I liked that," Peter explained.
Today, Peter finds himself paying it forward at Greiner Bio-One, a medical device manufacturer in Union County. As the Apprenticeship Coordinator at Greiner Bio-One, Peter develops and trains individuals to become technicians. He also coordinates with local educators to develop programs for apprenticeships, shaping and molding the technicians of the future. "I enjoy what I do very much. Playing a role in someone's growth is gratifying. Being able to see where someone starts in this field and then see how far they go is very rewarding," he added.
Peter says that he wished he had paid more attention in class. "I was young and my vision was short sighted," he explained. "I think the biggest difference in school and work is at school, instructors tell you what you need to do. At work, you do not always get that. At school, you get a grade to gauge your progress. At work, you do not always get that. At school, a "C" grade is passing. In the medical field, mistakes can mean you have put the person's life at risk."
Peter encourages individuals to do their best when studying in the Electronics Engineering field. "Give it your best, and give it your best all the time. Leave no room for regret later. The education from SCC helped me understand that learning never ends. My life experiences have helped me learn that helping others can only make you stronger."
Pictured is SCC Alumnus Pheng Peter Xiong, Apprenticeship Coordinator at Greiner Bio-One (front left), and his current apprentices who are trained to become device technicians.