Vocational training

Professional training led to success for local businessman

Manley Christopher is famous around Cameron for his Dr. Pepper Jelly and Kowboy Kandy which he sells weekly in Cameron Park to passers-by.

Christopher feels it is important to speak on behalf of the students as vocational training has impacted his career.

When she was three years old, her father was tragically taken from his family in a horrific event while her mother gave birth to her baby sister in hospital. The three struggled to get by, and Christopher went without his entire childhood.

He grew up in Houston before television and was intrigued by the inner workings of radio. He lived next door to a gentleman who repaired radios, and he gave him old tubes and transformers, which he took apart to investigate the inner workings. He worked with a crystal radio that could pick up stations by attaching wires to a crystal.

Christopher met a neighbor who had an old lawn mower that didn’t work, and he asked if he could have it to mow the lawns and make some money. The man said he would sell it to her for $20 if he could make it work. After several unsuccessful attempts, it finally started. He mowed the lawns for $1, paid for the lawnmower, and used it for four years until it smoked out and eventually died.

He lacked the support he needed at home to succeed in life, and having the opportunity to attend Houston Vocational Technical High School drastically changed the trajectory of his life. He received an education that gave him a quality of life that he would not have achieved with a regular high school diploma. He studied radio and television throughout his high school years, knowing he wouldn’t have the opportunity to go to college.

The day after he graduated from high school, he was at the recruiter’s office and joined the Air Force. He presented his high school curriculum, which included the study of basic electricity, radio repair, and transmitter building. The Air Force tested it.

Due to his advanced education and knowledge, he directly advanced in the field. Other recruits entered technical training schools. Manley spent four years in the Air Force serving in ground-to-air communications, spending his fourth and final year in Vietnam. Upon completion of his military service, he achieved an excellent position at Xerox and spent 37 years as a senior technical representative. He lived and worked in the Austin area and even served Milam County. He remembers working on Xerox equipment in the basement of Cameron’s courthouse in the 1960s, never imagining he would ever live here.

Due to his upbringing, the vocational school he attended was a godsend. Manley claims it was the “best shot I’ve ever done!” He says the second best decision he ever made was to join the Air Force.

Christopher believes there are now many jobs available in the area that require technical training. Providing this education to students at Yoe High School will allow them to move directly into these positions upon graduation. He sees an opportunity for businesses to be part of the process to ensure students will have a place to work and hopefully stay in Cameron to work, play and live.

He believes people should have a vision and be open to possibilities. He wants everyone to consider being part of the change that will raise children who have no hope for a better future. Not all children are college bound and providing this opportunity at an early age will help navigate them towards a brighter future.

The Cameron ISD bond election is scheduled for May 7th. For polling locations, see the story on page 1.