College News

CCCC graduate Joseph Price shows dedication in school and in working world

Click to enlarge,  Joseph Price, a graduate of the Central Carolina Community College Laser and Photonics Technology program, is finding success at Wasatch Photonics.

click image to enlarge ⊗

Joseph Price, a graduate of the Central Carolina Community College Laser and Photonics Technology ... (more)

Click to enlarge,  Joseph Price, a graduate of the Central Carolina Community College Laser and Photonics Technology program, is finding success at Wasatch Photonics.

click image to enlarge ⊗

Joseph Price, a graduate of the Central Carolina Community College Laser and Photonics Technology ... (more)

07.16.2020College & CommunityCollege GeneralCurriculum ProgramsStudents/Graduates

SANFORD - Though more than a decade has passed, Central Carolina Community College photonics lead instructor Gary Beasley vividly remembers the day he met Joseph Price. It was on a Saturday morning in Lillington. Beasley was hosting a group of middle school students and their parents for a laser workshop, a sort of hands-on educational activity combined with a soft recruiting pitch for the college.

One sixth-grader stood out.

"I can't remember what exactly we were doing at the time, but you just wouldn't believe his capability, his understanding of computers and software," Beasley says looking back. "I told my wife, who was helping me at the time, that this kid is a little genius. He knew more about some topics than I did, and I was taking master's-level courses at the time."

That initial encounter apparently left a huge impression on the little genius, too, because it wasn't the last time Price got a chance to tinker with lasers at the college. He returned to laser camp a few more times, developing a personal and intellectual relationship with Beasley, along with a fascination for the capability of lasers and science of light. When it came time to graduate from Triton High School in Erwin, Price had options, but not much of a decision to make. He was headed to CCCC for an associate degree in applied science.

Beasley has a long list of accomplishments on his resume. Winner of this year's CCCC's Excellence in Teaching Award, he came to the college in 2001 with experience as a senior technician for GTE Sylvania, manufacturing engineering manager for Data General and quality engineering manager for Ericsson Inc. That's just part of a longer resume that includes a bachelor's degree from N.C. State and master's from East Carolina.

But what he saw in his young student was almost unlimited potential. "He taught me as much as I taught him," Beasley says. "He would do a lab in an hour or so and then quietly walk around and help other students. He was never concerned about leaving early. He would just walk around and do teaching. Everybody just loved him."

Quiet Genius

That kind of ability can easily go to your head. But what you quickly learn from speaking with Price and pretty much anyone around him is that there's no arrogant bone in his body. He's just a curious, hard-working young man who cares about the people around him: family, friends, colleagues and his church.

Quiet. That may be the description you hear most. Dr. David Creasey, CEO of Wasatch Photonics, where Price works, says his brilliant employee is actually "very quiet and quite shy" and "someone who doesn't sing his own praises," even though there's a lot to sing about.

Price is a R&D engineering technician for the company based in Logan, Utah, following in a long line of CCCC students who have been recruited to work at a Wasatch location near Raleigh-Durham International Airport that produces spectrometers and complex Optical Coherence Tomography equipment -- machines that give ophthalmologists non-invasive images to help diagnose eye disease. Creasey says his company focuses its recruiting efforts on finding technicians who have the drive and personal skills needed to learn business techniques on the job and grow into successful company leaders. ("You can teach the head part," he says, "but you can't buy passion.")

Creasey and other executives saw that drive in Price right from the start -- even during the job interview, when Price radiated a passion for science and came to the discussion with knowledge about the company and plenty of serious, thoughtful questions. They continued to see it after Price joined the company went about his work assembling and testing machines, while helping solve any number of unanticipated problems that arose along the way.

Creasey says that combination of ability and quiet humility is always a good thing. At the same time, "We have to be careful because it's very easy to take him for granted," he said. "Joseph is very good at a lot of different things -- he even does things that our specialists do -- and on most days, we have to tell him to stop. He's brilliant."

Price of Success

He seems almost oblivious to his potential; both Beasley and Creasey say doctoral work would barely be a challenge. Who knows how things will unfold. But at this moment in time, Price is not seeking academic credentials. He's not trying to grab the next rung on the corporate ladder. More than anything, it seems like he just wants to do good work, learn new things and solve challenging problems.

It's an ethic that seems embedded in his personality and refined at the college, where the more he learned, the more he wanted to learn, even though there was often a price to pay. "There's lot of hard work and dedication to it," he says about striving for success. "There are some things that come easier than others, but there are some times that it's hard work and you have to put everything you've got into it."

That dedication is something Beasley saw over the course of his friend's journey, from that first day in laser camp through the degree program and onto the job. It has left an impression that strikes even someone with Beasley's own impressive background. "Joseph is the best I have ever seen," the teacher says, "as a student, friend, son and human being."

To learn more about the CCCC Laser and Photonics Technology program, visit www.cccc.edu/curriculum/majors/lasersphotonics.