Editor’s note: Each Wednesday, WRAL TechWire features a story highlighting the NC Bio Jobs Hub initiative. Go to the Bio Jobs Hub for more stories and info on life sciences job opportunities made possible by NC’s workforce training initiatives.


RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – From flying B-52 bombers as a member of the United States Air Force to driving semis across the country, Robert Voissem has had what he calls a “colorful work history.”

It was his time taking care of his parents that led him to make another career change and pursue a degree in biotechnology at Wilson Community College.

“After my parents’ deaths, I began to explore careers that may help people live,” said Voissem. “I examined several careers, but biotechnology opened many possibilities to enhance the lives of others.”

Robert Voissem (left) with NC Community College System President Thomas Stith III. (Photo via NC Biotech Center)

Voissem’s search for his new career led him to Wilson Community College and biotechnology instructor Stephanie Winstead.

“After speaking to Ms. Stephanie who leads the biotechnology program at Wilson Community College, I decided to embark on this career that concentrates on saving the lives of people on a global scale,” said Voissem. “She took the time to show me the equipment and entertain my many questions about this expansive field.”

Sam Taylor (NCBIO photo)

He began his new journey toward an Associate of Applied Science degree in biotechnology as one of the first recipients of the North Carolina Community Colleges’ Samuel M. Taylor Scholarship. Before his death earlier this year, Taylor was the founder and president of NCBIO for more than 25 years and played an instrumental role in the state’s growth as biotechnology leader.

Scholarship recipients receive $3,000 per year ($1,500 per semester) to cover tuition, fees, and books.

Voissem credits the scholarship and Instructor Winstead for igniting his interest in the program.

“I enrolled in the program this fall, and I have learned many aspects about this career from Ms. Stephanie’s passion from her several years of working in this field,” he said. “Along this educational journey, she has shared her extensive knowledge from her lectures and her guiding hand while we are engaged in laboratory experiments.”

As a result, he is learning to transfer the classroom material into action in the lab.

Upon graduation next year, Voissem plans to become a lab technician in the Wilson and Clayton area. For now, he is going to learn all he can in the classroom.

“One of the greatest lessons I have learned is to simply be myself, ask questions and seek the wisdom that Ms. Winstead shares with her fellow students during each classroom and laboratory experience.”

(C) N.C. Biotech Center