Rolling down the road to a rewarding career

Published 10:29 pm Friday, April 20, 2018

First female CDL graduate at PDCCC secures dream job

Michelle McDaniel reached more than one milestone by the time she graduated from Paul D. Camp Community College in December 2017.

The 47-year-old Virginia Beach resident is the first woman to graduate from the college’s truck driver training program offered in partnership with Shippers’ Choice in Suffolk. The non-traditional student also defies traditional roles, as she is currently employed at a company where the majority of the employees are men.

“It’s an honor to be the first woman to graduate from the program,” McDaniel said. “I am proud to be in a male-dominated industry.” She was hired about two months after graduation to drive a Mack dump truck for a Virginia Beach construction company.

Email newsletter signup

“My typical day is delivering asphalt to road construction sites all over Hampton Roads,” McDaniel said. “I really love what I do. It is challenging and fast-paced, but at the same time, I have a lot of ‘me’ time in the truck, where I pray and just enjoy the ride.”

When McDaniel decided it was time for a change, she found the PDCCC curriculum while researching Commercial Driver License programs online.

“I realized that good jobs go to people with good skills,” she said about repurposing her career path. “I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to afford to quit my job at a fast food restaurant and go to school full time,” she said.

Although she received some funding through the VCCS workforce credentialing grant, currently referred to as FastForward, she often had to sacrifice and be diligently frugal.

“It was a challenge to budget my savings for fuel, food and bills, but I knew I couldn’t go wrong investing in myself.”

The partnership for this program entails Shipper’s Choice providing training, instructors and trucks, while the college provides students, classroom and office space, and credentials.

“I highly recommend the program,” said McDaniel. “I knew the instructors wanted me to succeed. PDCCC was always there for me with job leads and encouragement. I never felt lost in my journey.”

McDaniel emailed Workforce Career Coach Lisha Wolfe to tell her that the CDL program had changed her life.

“I came from a background of bad decisions and bad relationships,” she explained. “I have never really taken care of myself.

“But I’m here to tell you that it’s never too late to start over and take control of your life. I am amazed every day at how much my life has changed. If you have a dream in your heart, you will find a way. If I can do it, so can you.”

For more information about the truck driver training program, contact the Regional Workforce Development Center at 569-6050 or email