Sustainability in action:
In pursuit of a dream
Norfolk Southern wants employees to have ample opportunities to develop their skills and advance their careers. Jerome Perry is taking advantage of an NS program to further his education.
Jerome Perry thought he would have to give up his dream of a college degree after he lost a grant that was funding his education at Norfolk State University. That all changed, however, when he joined Norfolk Southern in 2008 and learned that the company paid up to $5,600 a year toward tuition for an associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree.
Perry, a dumper operator at Lamberts Point coal pier in Norfolk, Va., jumped at the opportunity. Since then, with financial assistance from the railroad, he has completed an associate’s degree in general studies at Strayer University and is working on a bachelor’s degree in business administration. “I never thought I’d be with a good company where I could have a chance to finish my education,” he said.
Perry said he hopes his university credentials will help land him a position in the railroad’s Labor Relations Department one day. “I feel like my association with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, along with my education in psychology, philosophy, and religion are giving me the skills for learning how people think,” he explained. “I’m a people person. I talk to everybody. I listen to everybody. When people are in conflict, I say, ‘Don’t take it home with you; let’s talk about it.’ ”
Perry said he is taking courses in labor relations and human resources management. “I love the unions, and I like to see the unions and management work together,” he said. “At lunchtime, at breaks, I have my books, and I’m studying. I want to move up in the company. It’s all about taking the degree I have and using the company’s funding assistance to enhance it.”