CDL Grad Loves Life on the Highway

Celina McBride, CDL GradCelina McBride has always liked the idea of traveling. Now that she’s been on the road with her CDL from Blue Ridge Community College, she has “learned to love it!”  

Celina Delivers

Thu Sep 12, 2019 at 10:39 AM

CDL Grad Loves Life on the Highway

Celina McBride, CDL GradCelina McBride has always liked the idea of traveling. Now that she’s been on the road with her CDL from Blue Ridge Community College, she has “learned to love it!” She’s been driving a Target-dedicated truck for Schneider National for a year and a half.

“The [Blue Ridge] instructors are great. They take extra time with you,” said Celina. “They don’t push you to do anything before you’re ready. The number one goal here is to build safe, smart truck drivers.”

Bill Byrd, CDL training coordinator, explained the structure and goals of the program. In the five-week course, students spend the first week in the classroom going over regulations, logbook requirements, communication, using the simulator, etc. He assigns over a dozen videos to supplement classroom instruction that students must complete before testing. In the second week, two or three students assigned to a specific instructor and truck begin their time behind the big wheel on BRCC’s driving range in Verona.

“Our program is comprehensive, but it is hard to get to everything in 200 hours,” said Byrd. “That’s why these videos that they can watch on their own really help.” Students average 600 miles on the road during training but only about 20 percent of that is on the interstate.

“The skill set is obtained on secondary roads,” said Byrd. “We take them over the mountain or out to Monterey, where they deal with space management issues, changes of speed. That’s where they really learn to drive.”

Celina drives Sunday through Thursday nights, picking up cargo at the Target Distribution Center in Stuarts Draft and delivering it to a Target store in suburban Maryland. That means she takes heavily travelled highways, but since she drives at night, it’s not during rush hour. The final 40 miles of the trek are on a secondary road, so the BRCC training pays off.

“They teach everything thoroughly,” said Celina. “There are no surprises when you go to take the test. You are trained with quality.” She trained on a 1996 Kenworth T-800 tractor, which she refers to as “her baby.”

Celina is a big Blue Ridge advocate. She is busy trying to convince a friend in Pennsylvania to move here to do the CDL program. “I hope I can come back to talk with students about my experiences and also recruit them into the field.”

Although the percentage of females in trucking is still small, the number is growing and Celina is encouraged by that.

“Women are definitely coming into the industry. It can be intimidating at times, but you have to know who you are and what you’re good at,” she said. “Truck driving can be a great career for women. There is a big demand. It is a steady income with good benefits.”

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