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WITC student receives national Women in Trucking scholarship

Mary Beth Raddatz was recently named a Women in Trucking Foundation scholarship recipient. Submitted photo

Mary Beth Raddatz of New Richmond received a scholarship from the national Women in Trucking Foundation to help cover the cost of her education in WITC's Truck Driving program.

The Women in Trucking Foundation is supported by the Women in Trucking Association, whose mission is to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the industry.

"I applied for the scholarship when I first started the program," said Raddatz. "It's an online process, and they ask you to outline what your goals are, how you feel about trucking and how you got into trucking. I talked about it from my heart, and I got an email two weeks ago to let me know I had been chosen. It was such a help."

The Foundation provides scholarships twice a year and awardees come from across the United States and are enrolled in schools or training programs in categories of driving, leadership, safety or technical fields of study.

"The Women in Trucking Foundation has a meaningful impact on the lives of women seeking a career in transportation by providing scholarships to offset the high cost of education," said Foundation Chairperson Debora Babin Katz, vice president of TrucBrush Corporation. "We are forwarding the future of transportation by giving these women the opportunity to achieve their career goals, and we could not do this without the generosity of our donors, including the J.J. Keller Foundation, the Ryder Foundation and the UPS Foundation."

Raddatz graduated from the 10-week Truck Driving program on March 28 and recently passed her Class A Commercial Driver's License test. She will hit the ground running with her newly earned license. Within weeks after graduating, Raddatz will own a truck and will be hauling for some local agriculture producers.

"I really had no idea there were so many options available for careers in trucking. I have received so many employment offers already," said Raddatz.

There is a high demand for entry-level truck drivers in local and long-distance employment, and that demand is expected to grow as baby boomers retire from the industry. Entry-level salaries are generally in excess of $40,000 per year with potential to earn more than $60,000 per year with experience. Most employers also offer health, vacation and retirement benefits.

Classes are taught through classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction, and students will get driving experience in both rural and urban settings.

"The instructors at WITC are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about what they teach," said Raddatz. "They want you to succeed, and they will be there helping you every step of the way."

Raddatz hopes she can inspire others to pursue a career in trucking.

"I want to find everyone else out there who might be in the same situation as myself," Raddatz said. "I'm 56, and I've worked full time for all my years, but I was ready for a change. I know that there's other women and men out there who might be thinking, 'Should I do this or can I do this?' My advice is just to do it. Go for it. When you're a truck driver, you don't have to worry whether you're contributing to society because every day you feel like you have a purpose."

For more information about WITC's Truck Driving program, visit www.witc.edu/truck-driving.

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