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April Hankinson

Heading to Columbus State became a priority for 30-year-old April Hankinson after she was suddenly laid off from a full-time maintenance position. The Columbus native enrolled in Columbus State’s Skilled Trades program and is now halfway to earning an associate degree.

Hankinson is pursuing a degree in Facilities Maintenance. The program teaches students to do maintenance, upkeep and light repair of residential, commercial, and multi-family properties. It’s one of many Columbus State programs in the skilled trades, such as Aviation Maintenance, Automotive, HVAC and Landscape Design.

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Trekking through a burned-out house isn’t your standard classroom setting – unless you’re a skilled trades student like April Hankinson. Along with her classmates, the 30-year-old is learning how to calculate insurance damage estimates.

April Hankinson, Skilled Trades Student: It’s actually pretty interesting to see the inner workings and what damage can be caused by water and fire. So it’s really cool.

Matthew Price, Facilities Maintenance Program: When they have you come into places like this that has fire damage and water damage you actually get hands on.

Most skilled trade students aim for the facility maintenance associate degree. That’s April Hankinson’s plan. The two-year program includes hands-on carpentry, welding, electrical, plumbing and more – skills she can use for a career move to refurbish residential properties.

April Hankinson: Anyone can sit and read a book and learn how to do something but to actually get out there and learn these applications, you learn so much more that way.

For this class session, students toured a burned-out house that’s been preserved by a major insurance company for damage estimate training.

Russ Dougherty, CSCC Carpentry Instructor: Well, here I just wanted to show the students some of the practical applications that they are learning in the classroom and to show them some of the damage natural disasters can cause.

Similar to on-the-job training, this experience puts Columbus State students such as April Hankinson that much closer to a degree.