STRAC Institute
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Right In Front Of Me

A new podcast brought to you by STRAC Institute

Hosted by Tim Sawyer

Right In Front
Of Me

A new podcast brought to you
by STRAC Institute

Hosted by Tim Sawyer

Right In Front Of Me is a podcast that highlights the explosion of high demand career opportunities available to vets of all ages, high school graduates, and career changers looking for long term opportunities in the exciting world of electronics. Right In Front Of Me connects you with the hot topics, employers, educators, military personnel, and everyday people making a difference in the world of vocational training. Right In Front Of Me will put you on the path to a rewarding career you can be proud of without the time, expense, and unpredictability of high-cost education. Brought to you by the STRAC Institute, providing students of all backgrounds with a clear path to a successful career in the high demand industry of electronics.


This episode’s guest is Jason Payne! Jay is a new hire for the STRAC Institute at the Exeter, RI campus. Born and raised in Bellville, Ohio. Jay enlisted in the Navy in 1993 and retired in 2017 for a run of 24 years of service, plus service as a US Navy Chief Petty Officer. He was deployed several times in his career to areas around the Middle East and to the Mediterranean. He has led, mentored, and trained numerous Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, Airman, and Coastguard personnel as well as directed several operations for critical Combat Systems Warfare areas and Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection requirements to ensure mission capability and readiness, along with numerous awards and citations. Jay sees himself as a huge motivator and always seeks to get the job done in every task ever faced. Thank you Jay!


This episode’s guest is Neal Tomblyn! Neal has over 40 years of extensive leadership transforming and creating growth for Aerospace and Defense businesses both domestically and internationally with start-ups to Fortune 50 companies. Mr. Tomblyn was the Director of Strategy and Business Development at Lockheed Martin for their Rotary and Mission Systems Division focusing on providing sustainment, logistics, and training solutions for the global military market. Mr. Tomblyn was responsible for strategic direction, business development, capture, proposal and IRAD expanding global business opportunities as well as identifying next generation technologies, applications, and solutions. After taking early retirement from Lockheed Martin Corporation in December of 2019, Mr. Tomblyn formed Ingenius Partners, LLC (Ingenius) where his focus is on creating growth environments and opportunities for early-stage disruptive technology and solution companies supporting digital transformation in the Defense and Aerospace market. In previous roles at Lockheed Martin, Mr. Tomblyn was the Director of Strategy, Business Development and Capture Leadership for Lockheed Martin’s Aviation Solutions businesses, focused on global aviation solutions for ANSPs, airports and airlines.


This episode’s guest is David Vega!
“As a Bronx, New York native, raised in and around abject poverty, I have never let my environment and station in life define me or limit my pursuits in life. Creative thinking, resourcefulness and my keen ability to problem solve has led me to various careers and entrepreneurial avenues, despite being dyslexic and overcoming many life obstacles and socio-economic stigmas. My careers have spanned the gamut from working in the: music and film industry, my stint in the Air Force (Honorable Discharge), building and rehabbing/renovating homes (as an entrepreneur), various corporate middle management positions and finally the medical industry. Currently, I am halfway through training for a new career path in electronics at STRAC Institute. I hope to further my new career path with the transferable skills I’ve amassed. My prior academic vitae began at the High School of Music and Art & Performing Arts (FAME), Bronx Community College (Valedictorian), Vassar College (a seven-sister school to the ivy leagues) and lastly Erwin Tech (Neurodiagnostics). I consider myself a “Renaissance-Gypsy” and life learner who was lucky enough to find my soulmate of 22 years. I say lucky, because restless souls are difficult to tame.” -David Vega


This episode’s guest is Adam DeGraide! Adam DeGraide is an entrepreneur, speaker, and digital marketing expert, to say the least. Adam is a three-time Inc 500 Founder who has created more than three-hundred million in equity valuations. He is a self-starter, high school graduate who values a good attitude, skills, and ability. He has employed thousands over his career as a CEO. Thank you, Adam!


In this episode we discover… There are extremely limited resources for vocational education grants and scholarships, Ivan and Kelving’s experience at STRAC Institute, and why these students chose STRAC versus other education options. Thank you Ivan and Kelving!


In this episode you will get to meet Markell and Wesley. These are two young men in the middle of their technical training post-high school. We will partake in a great in-depth discussion about their journey to STRAC, thoughts on why they chose the field of electronics, the high cost of college tuition, and student debt. We also discuss their career plans after STRAC. This is a great discussion for high school students, educators, career changers, and technical employers. Thank you Wesley and Markell!


This episode’s guest is David England! David is currently the NCR Corporation’s Southeast District Field Operations Sr Manager, an area encompassing 8 states and over 930 employees. NCR, a global company with over 36,000 employees worldwide, is headquartered in Atlanta, GA. Over 13 years David has built a career at NCR starting from an entry level position as a Field Engineer 1 through multiple roles, up to his current position. David is a veteran of the US Marine Corps and US Navy. 


Joe Amaral is an entrepreneur, expert digital marketer, and former military. His last two businesses were honored to have made the INC 500 of fastest growing private businesses in America. Now on his third start up business, he has worked with thousands of small businesses across the US and beyond. Serving as COO in the current and last business venture, Joe has had his hand in all elements of each business, finding the right talent, managing the vision of software development, and the driving force in formulating & managing execution of the digital strategies clients will use to grow their business. Joe is the father of 3 teenage boys, an avid gardener, and has a blog on heirloom gardening. 


This episode’s guest is Megan Herne! Megan joined AstroNova, Inc., a global leader in developing and applying data visualization technologies, in 2016 and now serves as the organization’s Human Resources Manager for North America. In this role, Megan is responsible for the development and administration of various human resource plans and procedures and provides guidance to management in a number of areas, including people development, performance management, benefits, compensation, and more. Previously in Megan’s role as Talent Acquisition Manager for Panera Bread/Howley Bread Group, she led the talent acquisition function with staffing responsibility for over 20 cafes. Megan is dedicated to serving others, both in their educational and professional development and personal lives. She previously served for 3 years as the Director of Programs & Professional Development for the Rhode Island Society of Human Resources Management. In this role, Megan was responsible for the planning and development of all educational and social programming for the organization’s members. Megan currently serves on the Board of Trustees at Davies Career & Technical High School and the Board of Directors at Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island. 


This episode’s guest is Charles Myers! Charles is a decorated 20-year veteran teacher of Construction Technologies. His many professional achievements include winning the 2003 Milken Educator Award, National Grid’s Pioneer in Education Award, Woonsocket’s Innovation in Education Award, and being named the 2016 CTE Teacher of the Year.  He has experience and/or licenses in multiple Green Construction disciplines including Building Performance Analysis, Solar Hot Water, LEED, and Energy Star Homes. Prior to his teaching career, Charlie supervised construction of multimillion dollar custom homes in southern Rhode Island. He is a dedicated teacher who loves to collaborate on projects that make a positive impact on the community, the school campus, and the lives of students. Charlie looks forward to the work they are doing at Ponaganset, where he can continue to move forward in excellence.


This episode’s guest is Martin Purin! Martin is a Career Advocate for STRAC Institute. He specializes in building relationships with the students as well as the companies who hire them. He gets enjoyment out of helping them find employment and has made a career based on helping others. Martin served over 22 years in the Marine Corps, where he achieved the highest enlisted rank of Master Gunnery Sergeant. During his time in the military, he has experienced combat, led others, and changed lives through engaged servant leadership. Today he continues to help others through career development.
Martin is originally from the Westbank of New Orleans, enlisted in the Marine Corps when he was 17, and graduated from Post University with a B.S. in Business Administration. He is passionate about helping others, mentorship, and the development of both kids and adults alike. He coaches flag and tackle football, remains active at church, and believes in giving back. He is driven to be his best for his wife and two sons. 


This episode’s guest is Kristin Young! Kristin is currently the Director of Clinical Services for Herren Project and has a private practice on Cape Cod. Completing her Master’s in Social Work from Boston University in 2009, she has worked in the field of mental health and addictive disorders for 20 years. Kristin’s past experience includes working with individuals with chronic and severe mental health issues and co-occurring disorders. She also has experience working with adolescents and their families. Kristin specializes in addiction and recovery, trauma, and chronic mental health issues. We are excited to have her as our guest!


This episode’s guest is Alex MacLeod! Alex earned his M.Ed. from Keene State College (NH) and has been serving K-12 public school students in Rhode Island and Massachusetts for over twenty-five years as a School Counselor and Administrator. He admits that counseling students is more of a “calling” than a career. Of particular interest in his profession is analyzing data relating to student performance, researching the impacts of technology on learning and the developing brain, as well as working with his team to design more effective counseling practices to support student transition, academic performance, and career exploration. We are excited to have him as our guest!


Welcome to Right In Front Of Me! In this introduction episode our host, Tim Sawyer, explains why we are passionate about our podcast and what our show is all about!

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