Column: From tough times to hard worker

Russell Eastman turned his senior-year internship into a full-time job at Gaylor Electric. (Photo by Cindy Benedict)

Russell Eastman turned his senior-year internship into a full-time job at Gaylor Electric. (Photo by Cindy Benedict)

Commentary by Cindy Benedict

I’m proud to introduce you to Russell Eastman, a 2014 graduate from Noblesville High School.  Eastman is a great kid with a good heart and quiet spirit who has endured some hard circumstances beyond his control. Under normal circumstances, his career choices would be limited to the fast food job he already had. But NHS isn’t normal – they work hard to provide pathways for every student to become a responsible adult. For an increasing number of students, that pathway is through craft training. Eastman is training to be an electrician.

Eastman also is a graduate of the NHS Internships program and was just recently hired full-time by Gaylor Electric.

“This program helped me tremendously. It gave me the chance to earn more than I ever could in fast food, and I learned about a trade that I was not familiar with,” he said.

Eastman learned about the internship through Deanna Cummins, the NHS at-risk coordinator. Cummins had noticed Eastman’s school attendance was slipping, which is often the first sign of trouble. A family dissolving due to divorce had left Eastman to fend for himself before finishing his senior year. He needed to be more worried about groceries and housing than exams.

Cummins  had new tools to help Eastman do both. He began working at Gaylor through a half-day intern program as he finished his senior year. He was chosen to be one of 15 high school students to work at Gaylor during the summer. Six of those interns were just hired full-time and will begin a four-year apprenticeship program through the Associated Builders and Contractors Academy, subsidized by Gaylor. Eastman will work full-time, study part-time and in four years he’ll have experience, his Journeyman card, and an associate degree from Vincennes University.

Eastman is a hard worker, is good with his hands and is clearly liked on the Gaylor floor. He is grateful for this chance to turn things around. Here was a kid who could have easily slipped through the cracks. Without options and with his circumstances, his future would have been accidental. Now he has a pathway to a good job and can get established in Noblesville.

Kudos goes to NHS and its counselors and business partners for developing the intern program. Kudos to Gaylor Electric for caring about our community enough to partner so heavily in the program and provide paying summer jobs to high school students. But the biggest applause goes to our neighbor Eastman, who saw an amazing opportunity and worked hard to create his own future.

Cindy Benedict is manager of Vision Noblesville. She may be reached at 770-2007 or To learn more, visit


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