Lamont Peabody is unforgettable. Beneath those distinguished Viking features lie an infectiously optimistic good-natured character with many talents and skills. Soon he will be adding college graduate to his list of accomplishments when he receives his Associate in Applied Science degree in Electronics, Robotics and Automation (ERA) this fall.
The next step is getting a job where he can combine his knowledge of electronics with his extensive work experience. Lamont, the adventurer, took the long road on his path to higher education; his is a journey down the road less travelled. Immediately upon high school graduation, Lamont enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. As a Combat Journalist, Corporal Peabody spent seven years traversing the globe covering stories for all branches of the military. He often volunteered to participate in dangerous training exercises with the military’s elite forces in order to write more thorough news pieces.
When his military commitment ended, Lamont settled down in the surf-friendly city of San Diego, CA, working in a pawn shop in the evenings to free up his mornings to catch the best waves. After two years, however, the call of the road beckoned again. Lamont bought an RV and set a course for Alaska. The Northwest’s beauty, however, captivated him and Olympia became his new home.
Lamont’s new job as a truck driver appeased his adventurous spirit. Often travelling for months at a time navigating the inter-connected highways of America, Lamont never missed the opportunity to view unique roadside attractions, ghost towns and tourist spots along his delivery route. But life on the road was not conducive to the responsibilities of raising a family, so he opted for employment closer to home.
Starting a new career working in factory production, Lamont entered the industry as a forklift operator and quickly moved into the role of machine operator. As he discovered his passion for industrial equipment, he needed to learn how these giant machines worked. He taught himself all of the mechanical and electrical components of the equipment he operated. In no time, Lamont became a Production Supervisor. He was able to fix any piece of equipment on the floor, but he also inspired his crew to increase production to record numbers.
For more than 15 years, Lamont did it all. He was an Electrician, Welder, Lead Maintenance Technician and Plant Engineer. But by 2010, economic factors brought production to a halt. As if losing his job wasn’t bad enough, Lamont was also in the process of going through a divorce. Ever the optimist, however, Lamont viewed these events as an opportunity to go to college. “It was getting harder to find a job doing what I love without the formal college education,” he said. Today, many employers require college degrees as a prerequisite to the interview process. Lamont was referred to Centralia College’s Worker Retraining Program by the helpful staff at the Lewis County WorkSource. “I’ve never met so many wonderful people who really care about helping people achieve their goals. I couldn’t have done it without everyone’s expert assistance,” he added.
After ensuring that his children’s financial obligations were met, the remainder of Lamont’s unemployment check fell short of what was necessary to rent an apartment and go to college. Lamont, however, was not deterred from reaching his goal. For the last two years he has been homeless. “I lived up in the woods for the first year until my shelter collapsed under the weight of heavy snowfall. It’s been a great adventure and I’ve met some really interesting people,” recalls a grinning Lamont.
This fall, Lamont’s dedication and determination are being rewarded in the form of a college degree. Not only will he graduate from college, but he holds the honor of being the only student from the ERA program to hold an associate level of competence from the International Society of Certified Electronic Technicians (ISCET). Lamont explains, “Last spring, ISCET administered the highly technical exam to eight of the ERA students. Given two chances to take the test, I passed on the first attempt.”
Lamont has often taken the road less traveled. He’s a bright, humble, hard-working, humorous, homeless veteran with a college degree and an exuberant outlook on life and will no doubt be an asset to the company fortunate enough to employ him.
For more information on the college’s Electronics, Robotics, and Automation program, and the career options that could be available, please contact Cal Taylor, David Peterson, or Dave LaLond, the ERA instructors.