College, Smithfield Foods Sign Fourth Cohort of Apprentices - Wayne Community College | Goldsboro, NC `

College, Smithfield Foods Sign Fourth Cohort of Apprentices

August 26, 2022

Smithfield Foods and Wayne Community College signed their fourth cohort of industrial maintenance apprentices recently.

The new cohort adds 11 apprentices to the 36 apprentices in the three cohorts already in place. The company and the college launched the maintenance apprenticeship program in September 2019.

The new apprentices are:
at the Kinston plant: Nickolas Brown, Justin Gooding, and Deon Sutton, all of Kinston; and Patrick Holloman of Goldsboro;
at the Tar Heel plant: Jason McCallum of Rowland, Steve Warren of Raeford, and Delton Warren of Fayetteville; and
at the Clinton Plant: Juan Nunez-Galeno, Eric Osorio Escamilla, and Dakota Salazar, all of Clinton; and David Thomas of Roseboro.

The 11 members of the Smithfield Foods’ fourth maintenance apprenticeship program cohort are (left to right, front row) David Thomas, Eric Osorio Escamilla, Jason McCallum, Dakota Salazar, Delton Warren, (back) Nickolas Brown, Patrick Holloman, Justin Gooding, Juan Nunez-Galeno, Deon Sutton, and Steve Warren.

The program provides hands-on engineering and mechanic training while apprentices are working toward an associate in applied science degree in Industrial Systems Technology and Journeyman certificates from ApprenticeshipNC and the United States Department of Labor.

While they study, participants receive college tuition in addition to salary and benefits.

“Today marks the beginning of an opportunity to learn from what I believe is one of the best models that is out there,” Craig Foucht, Executive Director of the Wayne Business and Industry Center.

“With this model, you will be able to work four days a week or more maybe and you’re only going to school one day a week. Through the on-the-job training that you guys are going to do, right after you learn a theory or a skill inside the classroom, the next day you’re on the job and you can apply it,” Foucht said.

Current Apprentice Daniel Diperna spoke about his journey with Smithfield Food at the Aug. 17 signing ceremony for members of the new cohort.

“I started as an employee at Smithfield in 2015, looking to advance my career. I worked my way up the ladder. In 2017, I worked as a crew leader. In 2019, I started working in the maintenance department every weekend in hopes to start a career as a maintenance mechanic,” Diperna said.

“Later on, I applied but didn’t get the job. I didn’t have the knowledge and didn’t have the experience. But to my surprise, I’d say about three weeks later, the plant engineer came up to me said, ‘Hey, I have this offer for you’ and he gave me the whole spiel,” Diperna said. “There’s no way I could pass this up. This is just a win-win for everybody. Now I am proud to say that I started in the first cohort, helping to pave the way for future cohorts.”

Diperna will complete the program in spring 2023.

During the event, the new apprentices signed applications for registration with ApprenticeshipNC, the program within the North Carolina Community College System that certifies apprenticeships in this state, and the US Department of Labor.

After Smithfield Foods established its apprenticeship program with WCC, it used the college’s model to set up other programs in Nebraska, Missouri, and Iowa.

“Wayne Community College has the best that North Carolina has to offer,” said Smithfield Foods Talent Development Specialist Clarence Scott. “Since 2019, our apprenticeship went from 11 people at four plants and one community college to now, at the end of this, we’re going be over 100 apprentices at seven community colleges at 24 different facilities across the country. That’s huge.”

In total, WCC serves around four dozen apprentices from various companies in its industrial systems technology, swine management, and computer-integrated machining programs.

Most of North Carolina’s 58 community colleges have established apprenticeship programs in partnership with local businesses and provide classroom instruction that accompanies apprentices’ work-based training.

To learn more about apprenticeship opportunities, go to the Apprenticeship Wayne website or contact Sauls by email ori919-739-7063.

About Smithfield Foods, Inc.
Headquartered in Smithfield, Va. since 1936, Smithfield Foods, Inc. is an American food company with agricultural roots and a global reach. Our 63,000 team members are dedicated to producing “Good food. Responsibly.®” and have made us one of the world’s leading vertically integrated protein companies. Smithfield boasts a portfolio of high-quality iconic brands, such as Smithfield®, Eckrich® and Nathan’s Famous®, among many others. For more information, visit, and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

About WCC
Wayne Community College is a public, learning-centered institution with an open-door admission policy located in Goldsboro, N.C. As it works to develop a highly skilled and competitive workforce, the college serves 10,000 individuals annually as well as businesses, industry, and community organizations with high quality, affordable, accessible learning opportunities, including more than 165 college credit programs. WCC’s mission is to meet the educational, training, and cultural needs of the communities it serves.