Journal Entry: Justin Norcutt-05/17/2024

Journal Entry

Journal Entry: May 13, 2024 – May 17, 2024

This week marked the conclusion of my seventh week at the Workforce Training Academy for Heavy Equipment Operator Training in Eloy, Arizona, generously hosted by Empire CAT. The journey has been intense but incredibly rewarding.

Monday began with an introduction to compaction equipment. This machinery is vital for ensuring the stability and longevity of construction projects. The session was both informative and hands-on, providing essential knowledge for any heavy equipment operator.

Tuesday brought the introduction to backhoes. Mastering this versatile equipment is a significant milestone, as it is crucial on any job site. The training was rigorous and comprehensive, covering its functionality and applications thoroughly.

By Wednesday, we focused on refining our skills with the various equipment we had learned to operate over the past weeks. This final hands-on practice was crucial for solidifying our knowledge and preparing us for real-world challenges.

The week culminated in our Graduation ceremony. This moment was a testament to the hard work and dedication we all invested in this program. It was a time of celebration and reflection on how far we have come.

Balancing the demands of the training program and my new job was no small feat. The challenges were numerous, but surmountable thanks to the unwavering support I received. Bill McGlashan, Michael Santos, and his nonprofit PrisonProfessors, along with Ramon Serrato, provided invaluable guidance. The mentorship from the dedicated professionals at Empire CAT—Ron Morris, Scott Moser, Matt Peed, and John Foster—was a constant source of strength. Their support underscored the notion that success is not achieved in isolation but through collective effort and encouragement.

During our conversation on Wednesday at Graduation, Ron Morris and I discussed my future learning plans. I now intend to return to Eloy, AZ, for CAT’s Certified Operator Training Level 2. This advanced training aims to reduce wear and tear on machines, maximize production through proper operating techniques, and improve productivity, component life, and operator well-being while reducing tire wear, fuel, and GET costs. I plan to specialize in operating the M Series Motor Grader, Medium Hydraulic Excavator, Backhoe Loader, Medium Wheel Loader, Mini HEX & Skid Steer Loader, and Medium Dozer.

Some might wonder why I am eager to undertake this rigorous training again. The answer lies in the global recognition of Caterpillar’s Level 2 certifications. Holding these certifications will signify to future employers that I have invested significant time and effort to learn from masters of the trade. This expertise will make me a valuable employee and a knowledgeable business owner, capable of operating various pieces of equipment.

Reflecting on this week and my journey thus far, I am filled with immense gratitude for the opportunities ahead. Every challenge faced and sacrifice made is an investment in the future I envision for myself. With determination as my compass and support as my anchor, I am confident that success is not a distant goal but a forthcoming reality.

Please continue to follow along on my life’s journey as I seek the resources needed to further my educational skills and share my journey with the men and women in halfway houses. I aim to lead by example, showing them that there is a meaningful life after incarceration. I want to demonstrate how I, too, was released with nothing but a small cardboard box, scared of the ever-changing outside world. By seeking help and taking necessary steps towards success, I overcame my fears.

“No” is not in my vocabulary when it comes to pursuing the life I want. While one door may close, others open, offering new opportunities as long as one continues to seek them. I have learned that to be successful, one must follow successful people. Using their time and resources wisely can lead to a meaningful life. Inspired by Michael Santos, I start my days at 4 am, not out of obligation but out of a desire to learn more and follow in the footsteps of those I admire. These steps, although daunting, bring me closer to success each day.

I am grateful for my new friends and mentors, not only for this adventure but for future journeys. I feel empowered, as if I can accomplish anything. As I told Bill the other day, I never knew life could be so beautiful. It sometimes feels like a dream, having two jobs, gaining education, and receiving praise from others. Businesses are now reaching out to me, and I have the luxury of choosing where I want to go.

For anyone reading this who has doubts about themselves, I am proof that change is possible. If I can change my habits and become a productive member of society, so can you. Take your first step, and if you have any questions, contact me through my LinkedIn profile. I am happy to help in any way I can, as we all deserve a life of enjoyment.

This training has been more than an educational experience; it has been a transformative journey, equipping me with the skills and confidence to pursue a fulfilling career in heavy equipment operation. The lessons learned here will undoubtedly serve as the foundation for my future endeavors.